In case you want to learn what is mezze, how to eat it, and when and which recipes qualify for this type of meal, read on, this complete guide has everything you need to know!
Mezze is a Middle Eastern tradition that has spread to many cultures. The word mezze (meaning in English “small plates” or “appetizers”) refers to dishes served before a meal. For example, in Greece, mezze is called mezedes and they’re eaten with drinks rather than with meals. In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this delicious food tradition: what is a mezze platter, why people eat it, how they eat it, and more!
What is mezze?
If you’re wondering what is mezze food, here’s where you’ll find your answer. Mezze (the correct mezze pronunciation is meh-zay) is a selection of small dishes served as part of a meal. It’s usually eaten in the Eastern Mediterranean region and can be offered as an appetizer or main dish. The mezze spread typically features dishes that are vegetarian and/or vegan-friendly, though you will sometimes find fish and meat specialties here as well.
Mezze is a great way to eat a lot of food without getting overly full. When you eat a mezze menu, you get to sample different dishes and flavors, which is also fun. It’s also nice because mezze is served family style — you can try as much or as little as you want!
You’re probably familiar with mezze if you’ve ever eaten in a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant before. Mezze might also sound familiar from the small plates trend that has swept American restaurants in recent years. The word mezze comes from the Arabic word for “appetizer.”
In Levantine cuisine (the Middle Eastern countries of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan) and Greek and Turkish cuisine, mezzes are served as part of an assortment of small dishes called mezedes (meaning “small things to eat”). These can include olives, various pickled vegetables like peppers, eggplant or artichokes, fresh and smoked fish, cheese, hummus topped with herbs such as mint or parsley, stuffed grape leaves, and more.
How to eat mezze
Mezze is the perfect way to kick off a meal, whether you’re dining with friends or hosting a party. Ordering mezze family style means you can share different dishes and dig into them all at once. You’ll want to order a few different dishes so that everyone has something they love, but also try out some new flavors and textures as well.
If you’re hosting a dinner party, consider prepping your own appetizers before your guests arrive. Serve these with warm pita bread for dipping! Everyone will be so impressed!
Drinks for mezze
Drinks are a great way to start off a meal, and they can be even better if they’re paired with mezze. Here are some ideas for drinks to try together with your mezze menu:
- Raki (Greek anise-flavored liqueur)
- Cocktails that don’t have too much alcohol in them (like sangria or mojitos).
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for fun non-alcoholic drink options like kombucha or watermelon lemonade!
Most popular mezze Dishes
The most popular mezze dishes are definitely hummus and falafel, as well as other yummy spreads such as baba ghanoush and labneh, salads (tabbouleh, fattoush), stuffed olives, dolmas (stuffed vine leaves), different types of hard cheeses, meatballs, accompanied by some flatbread, of course.
Mezze vs. Tapas – similarities and differences
The word “mezze” itself comes from Arabic, but mezze has become popular around the world and is now often used interchangeably with tapas. But let’s see if they’re the same thing or not.
While both tapas and mezze are small plates of food served informally, there are some key differences between the two. First, while both can be consumed as an appetizer or a full meal depending on what else you’re serving and how many people you’re feeding, mezze tends to be lighter than tapas. This is because most dishes tend to contain fresh ingredients like vegetables, herbs, and spices rather than meat and sauces.
Second, while tapas can be served as a main course with other dishes like rice or potatoes on the side, mezze are usually eaten as the only dish in a meal. This is because they tend to be lighter and more elegantly prepared than tapas which makes them feel more appropriate at an upscale event or celebration.
Finally, tapas are Spanish in origin, while mezze are Middle Eastern.
Mezze can be made with many ingredients and flavors, but they are mostly vegetarian and often involve herbs like mint, parsley, cilantro, and dill; spices such as cumin and paprika; legumes like chickpeas; fruits like tomatoes or olives; dairy products such as cheese or yogurt; and more.
Mezzes are usually served cold at room temperature because they’re meant to be eaten while drinking alcohol (although there’s also hot mezze meaning dishes such as kofta). They’re also best on their own rather than with other foods since some flavors can overpower one another when eaten together.
If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, my list of recipes below will surely help you create the best mezze-style dinner party! Check them out! 🙂