You’ve Heard of Tapas, But What Are Mezze?

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 20 years you’ve probably heard the word tapas before: the easiest way of describing them is the Spanish equivalent of hors d’oeuvre. More elaborately, tapas are small plates of food that can be enjoyed as appetizers or eaten as a meal. The benefit of this style of dining is tasting many different varieties of food and being able to customize your meal to your palate and to the volume of food you like to eat.

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Jordanian Mezze Platter, Image Credit: Unai Guerra

But Spain isn’t the only place in the world that serves a large variety of small plates. Mezze is the Eastern Mediterranean version of tapas, or more specifically, the regions of the near East, Greece and Turkey. I first had mezze years ago in Washington, DC, at an incredible José Andrés restaurant called Zatinaya. Andrés, a Spanish-American chef who was one of the first to bring the small plates concept to the United States, featured Greek and Lebanese inspired dishes on his mezze menu, and I was wowed at the selection as well as all the flavors.

 

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A selection of salatim (salads) mezze from our anniversary dinner at Zahav.

As you know, my favorite restaurant in Philadelphia, Zahav, specializes in mezze dishes done with Israeli flair. The best part about mezze is the ability to choose many items to try because the plates are small and afforable.  If you love to share food with your friends then a meal made of mezze or tapas is for you! You can even make your own mezze platter at home from things you can purchase easily from your local supermarket. Here’s a quick list of convenience foods that can help you form a tasty, well rounded meal:

 

There are many other delicious forms of mezze that you can discover in restaurants or by making them at home. A quick Pinterest search reveals oodles of choices to try! Have you had tapas or mezze before? (I know almost everyone here has at least tried hummus once!) Let me know your favorite mezze in the comments! (Mine is charcoal-grilled duck heartsm but I’m an adventurous eater! 😉 )

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8 comments

  1. I am not normally a bread eater, BUT there is a restaurant here in Montclair called Uncle Momo’s that makes their own pita bread. It arrives at the table hot and puffed up, and it is incredibly good!! Anything dipped into by that bread is divine!

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  2. I really enjoyed learning about Mezze. I had heard of Tapas, but not the other. I love the whole idea of both! Thanks for your ideas about how to make them at home. I want to try Halloumi.

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    • Halloumi is really great! (I don’t know if you have a Wegman’s near you but ours has halloumi in their cheese department.) I’m lucky that I live in an area full of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ethnicities so I can taste all of these things. I hope you give mezze a try!

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