Image by Ariela R.
I live in the Middle East.
Here, company or holiday meals always start with a wide selection of Mezze. Mezze are tiny dishes, usually simple salads, breads, and spreads, that are laid out family style before the meal begins. Mezze are the western equivalent of appetizers, but served much more frequently.
Why are mezze on my mind?
I’ll be eating at my sister-in-laws table tonight. I can almost predict there will be an enormous selection of mezze available. Her usual dishes are challah, dill dip/spread, fish, eggplant salad, zhug (middle eastern version of pesto), charif (hot sauce), hummus, techina, eggs and onions, pickles and olives, sliced and seasoned onions, and tossed salad. She also will probably add one or two extras like carrot salad or Israeli salad.
Mezze sounds like a tremendous amount of work, but it’s not. It isn’t nearly as much trouble to throw together as it seems. Most of the dishes are available ready made and at very reasonable prices for the small amounts needed. Other dishes, like coleslaw, are very easy to produce. People generally serve a combination of purchased and homemade mezze.
If you’d like to create your own mezze, here are a couple of recipes I posted in the past: