What is Meze exactly?
If you are visiting us here in Cyprus, you are going to eat a lot of delicious Meze. So what is in this mysterious Meze you may ask? Well, there is no one set thing that is Meze, so we have a bit of explaining to do.
Meze is a small dish that is shared with friends. The dish will come out, then everyone will get a plate, and you divvy up your portions. You may think- so it is an appetizer, right? Not really. An appetizer is meant to whet the appetite for a meal. Meze is supposed to be paired with a drink, scenery or conversation, it is meant to enhance the moment. You can nibble between sips of wine or ouzo.
Frequently, when you get Meze, you will get other Meze to accompany it. It then becomes Mezethes. You can adventure from small dish to small dish to explore different textures, flavors and aromas that the particular place may offer. You can also order light meze before a meal, similar in the manner of ordering appetizer before entrees.
One of my favorite ways to experience Mezethes is to order a bottle of wine then order a bunch of different plates. It is so fun to have a little of everything instead of one heavy entrée that does not let you explore the variety offered by the restaurant or taverna.
What is in the actual Meze will just depend where you are. If you are along the coast of Cyprus you can expect lots of seafood meze. Through out Cyprus lamb meze is very popular, and very delicious when done right. You can even find places that have vegetarian meze, but do not assume vegetarians will be accommodated everywhere.
One of my favorite meze is Gavros Marinatos. It is a simple dish of sardines marinated in oil. Now these are not your canned sardines, they are fresh, juicy and delicious sardines. If you think you don’t like sardines, and haven’t had a fresh one, you just haven’t eaten it the correct way yet. Fresh is the only way to eat sardines.
We encourage you to be adventurous while you are in Cyprus. Try something new, and you will be surprise by what you enjoy. Cyprus tavernas offer some of the finest dining in the Mediterranean.