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Meze, Traditional Cypriot Appetizers

Updated on July 14, 2012

Mezes, more than just Starters

Meze is an abbreviation for Mezedes and in Cyprus it is oftentimes, different to typical appetizers, a meal in its own. You have just to decide between vegetable, meat or fish meze.

Meze, what means 'little delicacies', can consist out of up to 30 different small plates with dips, vegetables and a wide range of fish or meat. It is served in groups of 4 or 5 plates at a time and usually 5 to 10 different groups arrive at the table.

Although in different tavernas, different dishes are served, there is a kind of pattern in it. Olives, taramosalata, hummus and yoghurt are followed by vegetables like eggplants or zucchini. Afterwards small meat or fish dishes are served before whole fish or grills arrive at the table.

As the pattern remains the same, the dishes served depend on the speciality of the taverna as well as the season.

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Mezes, more than just Food

Meze is not just food, mezes are also fun and entertainment.

A lot of food is served and it is not expected that everything is eaten. Cyprus meze is more a social event where people eat in groups, serve each other and enjoy the entertainment.

Dishes, typically included in a Cyprus Meze

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi is a traditional cheese from Cyprus, the island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Halloumi has a higher melting point than other cheese what makes it suitable for frying and grilling. You almost won't find any BBQ in Cyprus without the use of halloumi.

Taramosalata, A Fish Roe Dip

Taramosalata is actually a spread well known in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus that is prepared from fish roe, freshly squeezed lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and either soaked bread or potatoes. This spread is often provided together in a Cyprus meze, or with appetizers, that often can involve a variety of smaller, light dishes that are consumed in advance of supper or with a number of glasses of wine or ouzo.

Tzatziki, A Yoghurt Dip

Tzatziki is a yoghurt dip which is included in every Cyprus Meze. But it also accompanies souvlaki as a kind of sauce.

In Cyprus tzatziki is known as ttalattouri and it includes less garlic but mint. Tzatziki is always served cold.

Eggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal

The eggplant, also know as aubergine or brinjal is a plant from the family of the nightshades and thus closely related to tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. The fruit, which is used as a vegetable in cooking is known with the same name. The plant comes originally from India and Sri Lanka, but is meanwhile cultivated in almost the whole world.

Sheftalia, A Cypriot Sausage

Sheftalia is a typical food from Cyprus. Sheftalia is a kind of sausage without skin. Instead of sausage casing it uses caul fat, the membrane that covers the stomach of a lamb or pig, to wrap the ingredients. In a Cyprus meze you will find Sheftalia often among a wide variety of dishes.

Village Salad

Whatever food you like, whether you prefer fish, meat or even a vegetarian life style, a Greek Village Salad is a healthy and always tasty side dish to accompany any meal you decide for.

It is fast to prepare and due to its basic ingredients, you can be sure to have always all necessary things in the fridge. Just find some tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, green bell pepper, olives and some feta cheese and you are ready to go.

More Dishes included in Cyprus Meze

As the dishes included in a Cyprus meze are different, there are some typical dishes you will find in almost any meze in almost any taverna:

  • Hummus

    A tahini dip, crushed sesame seeds with olive oil, garlic and lemon.

  • Crushed Olives

    Crushed olives usually with coriander,garlic and fresh lemon

  • Pickled Green Olives

    Marinated green olives in olive oil and vinegar

  • Loukanika

    Pork sausages soaked in red wine and seasoned with coriander and red pepper

  • Koupepia

    Grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice

  • Lountza

    Smoked pork soaked in red wine

  • Afelia

    Pork cubes marinated in red wine and coriander

  • Stiphado

    Beef or rabbit stew with wine, vinegar and onions

  • Ofto kleftiko

    Chunks of lamb cooked in a sealed clay oven

  • Fried Zucchini

    As the name says, but mixed with scrambled eggs and fresh parsley.

Talking about Cyprus

Cyprus, Island Of Aphrodite

Cyprus is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and a a lot of people know about it as it is a popular tourist destination. But Cyprus is not just a destination for the holiday seeker, Cyprus is also a well established wedding destination and attracts numerous couples from overseas.

Cyprus Golf Courses

Since a few years, Cyprus with its now five golf courses, became more and more popular for golf holidays as well. This is also, because Cyprus is a holiday destination, that has much more to offer. If you are looking for perfect beaches or archeological places, Cyprus offers something for everyone.

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    • profile image

      sonia 2 years ago

      I will come soon as possible for degust.. Thx for cyprus meze

    • shopdeals2 profile image

      shopdeals2 4 years ago

      This is a great post. I love Cypriot Meze in Astoria Queens, New York :-)

    • zygi profile image

      zygi 4 years ago

      Ok I am hungry now. I can tell you all that this food is fantastic but expect the meze fish or meat to last a few hours a nice family occasion and do ask & try out the local Zirvania very informative and nice work Piedro

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      This looks delicious!

    • dave-sutton profile image

      dave-sutton 5 years ago

      Best meze I have had is at the Ttappis tavern Paralimni Cyprus.

    • DonD LM profile image

      DonD LM 5 years ago

      These food makes me hungry. They seems to be very delicious. Nice lense.

    • food monkey profile image

      food monkey 6 years ago

      this food looks amazing!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Just getting in the mood for some "new" foods ... which I hope to be experiencing very soon!

    • profile image

      kheme 7 years ago

      if you visit cyprus at all, you should at least try this before leaving!

    • profile image

      nickyk 8 years ago

      So Yammy! I need to go and eat one :)

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Thanks for these lenses...they could be really helpful in helping me plan trips (and meals).

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      One of the best parts of travel is the new foods. This really makes me want to travel to Cyprus!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      I have great memories of eating meze in Cyprus. I would love to visit again sometime soon and show the country to my children

    • K Linda profile image

      K Linda 9 years ago

      I love the food from that part of the world, though I had not heard of mezes. Reminds me of Spanish tapas and Rijsttafels, which are actually the Dutch addition to Indonesian food. MMMM...small plates rule. Great lens! 5*'s.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      I think this sounds like a splendid way to try a lot of things at a time. I believe it was an Indonesian restaurant that had something akin to this type of food service. I've not tried this type yet, but would sure love to after learning more about the foods through your lenses.

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Yummy lens! I see a lot of my favorites here (tzatziki, hummus, eggplant). Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.