Mezza

Mezza

By
Suzanne Zeidy
Contains
18 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708027
Photographer
Jonathan Gregson

Egypt is part of a rich Middle Eastern tradition of mezze, pronounced ‘mezza’ in Egyptian Arabic, a word shared in Persian, Greek and Turkish to mean ‘taste’ or ‘snack’. Mezza can range from simple home-cured pickles, cubes of crumbly white cheese and dark olives to vividly hued dips, garden-fresh salads and little charcoal-grilled meatballs or taameya, stuck through with cocktail sticks to easily dip into bowls of mint and yoghurt or tahina.

Enjoying a selection of small dishes prior to the meal is something many cultures do. Italy has its antipasto, Spain its tapas, the Cantonese their dim sum, but Middle Eastern mezza is notable in that it is very much part of the meal itself, in terms of both the food and the traditions that envelop it. However, unlike the rest of the meal, mezza is not about satisfying your hunger. Instead, it is there to sharpen the appetite for food to come and to engage all your senses in its enjoyment. Good presentation is everything and there should be real visual appeal, the mezza laid out all together with an assortment of small dishes contrasting in texture, aroma and appearance. A roughly mashed hummus next to silky baba ghanoush; a vivid orange carrot dip set against a rich purple beetroot one; miniature versions of mains there to tease the imagination and taste buds. This sense of delight is heightened by the very act of savouring just one morsel of food at a time.

Of equal importance to the food is the warm hospitality implied in serving mezza to your guests in all its generosity. Indeed, the Egyptian host takes pride in serving more food than their guests could possibly eat. The sociability of picking at the bites of food, no cutlery required, while you talk and laugh, is essential to the mezza experience.

Mezza is served differently in restaurants in Egypt to the way it is eaten at home. When you dine out, small platters or bowls of tahina, baba ghanoush and baladi salad are immediately brought to the table with a stack of baladi bread. These are the standards, to pick at as you order more substantial mezza or wait for your main course. They are what are known in Egypt as ‘tasbeera’ or ‘something to give you patience’. In the Egyptian home, mezza is usually served in the evening when, after a customarily heavy lunch, most people prefer to eat lightly. A number of different dishes are laid out for dinner, some main and some mezza, and everything is eaten together and jumbled up to enjoy without ceremony.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again