We know you have all come to Cyprus and heard of a “meze”, but do you know what it means and where it comes from?
Meze is a word with its roots lost in antiquity – the word and usage actually came to Cyprus from the former Ottoman Empire. A meze is not a meal course like an appetiser, but rather a dish, hot or cold, spicy or savoury, that is served with other dishes or “mezethes” to give a singular eating experience.
The purpose of the meze is two-fold, to complement and enhance the taste of the drink and to provide the backdrop for a social gathering and here in Cyprus, we love getting together.
Unlike appetisers (or “orektika” in Greek) which are intended to whet the appetite for the meal to come, a meze is the whole meal itself where family and friends meet to enjoy food, conversation and laughter. The little plates are shared by everyone at the table and that not only provides a wonderful variety of flavour and texture sensations, but also creates the kind of happy, convivial (perhaps noisy) atmosphere for which us Cypriots are well known – hey, we’re having fun!
What’s in a meze? Well no 2 meze are alike because there are many dishes traditionally served as “mezethes”, however there is a great deal of flexibility in what is actually included on the table and this is also dependant on what is in season as well. You can find meat, fish and vegetarian meze all over the island.
So, if you haven’t experienced a meze, then do your taste buds a favour and order one the next time you are in Paphos – Peyia or Coral Bay area at Savvas Grill restaurant– you won’t be disappointed.