The Characteristics That Set Mezze-Style Dining Apart

Several mezze-style dishes
Several mezze-style dishes - Thesomegirl/Getty Images

Mezze — also spelled meze — might be the best dining style you've never heard of. Similar to tapas or Scandinavian smorgasbord, mezze is made of small plates meant to be shared among family or friends. Common in many cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean, as well as in the Middle East, Balkans and North Africa, mezze has been enjoyed for centuries, with no clear central origin. Unlike tapas, which are served as appetizers, mezze typically makes up the entire meal. It features hot, cold, and room temperature dishes, is often served with anise-flavored drinks, and is a popular way to gather for dinner in a restaurant or at home on Sundays. 

What sets mezze apart is that it's usually a full course meal with an array of  flavorful dishes. Traditionally, it includes items like hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, kebabs, pita or flatbread, and olives, salads, cheeses (such as feta and halloumi), and other smaller bites. It often includes regional specialties — such as Kufteh, falafel, or Taramasalata — so the variety of dishes served at any mezze will always be unique. The cultural tradition of mezze is about extending your meal time so you can relax and socialize. You can dip, snack, combine flavors, and build your own plate while spending quality time with loved ones.

Read more: 30 Healthy Snack Ideas That Won't Ruin Your Diet

Mezze-Style At Home

Bowls and plates of food
Bowls and plates of food - joe samy/Shutterstock

It's easy to embrace mezze-style dining at home, and it's an excellent go-to for entertaining. Mezze is also perfect for hot summer nights when you want refreshing foods that don't require heating up the house. To plan your menu, consider a combination of prepared items, cooked dishes (bonus points if you can make them ahead), snacks, dips, and vegetables. You can serve different items on large plates so everyone can serve themselves; mezze also makes a stunning platter. The mix of hot and cold dishes, different textures and flavors, and colorful ingredients makes this a stunning yet easy-to-make dining experience.

A mezze menu can pull from the traditional dishes and any of your favorites, as well as what you already have on hand. Consider choosing a few different Lebanese mezze dishes to serve with mint and cucumber yogurt and hummus. Or opt for easy and flavorful Mediterranean dishes and serve a few different salads such as Greek, tabbouleh, and halloumi. Meat or veggie kebabs can be grilled and served alongside homemade hummus, baba ganoush, and pita, as well as bowls of olives, whipped feta, and some refreshing beverages. No matter what your menu contains, be sure to harness the spirit of mezze and make it a lively, intimate experience.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.