Meze, Traditional Cypriot Appetizers
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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:
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
Pork sausages soaked in red wine and seasoned with coriander and red pepper
Grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice
Smoked pork soaked in red wine
Pork cubes marinated in red wine and coriander
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.
Books about Meze
Talking about Cyprus
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.
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.