"The inhabitants of Syria are very abstemious in their diet, which is simple in the extreme. It consists chiefly of salted olives, cheese of a poor and indigestible quality, a coarse bread badly baked, and formed into flat cakes, and rancid butter, or perhaps oil. They rarely indulge themselves in the use of animal food; but on these occasions prepare a wholesome, and to many a palatable dish called pilaw, by stewing the flesh with the rice. Notwithstanding their common beverage is water, a spiritous compound, called racky, made from the fermented husks and stalks of grapes, distilled with aniseeds, is imported into Syria from Turkey and Asia."
Excerpt from William Wittman, Travels in Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. London: Richard Phillips, 1803, pp. 213-215, 217.