What is Mezze?
A typical middle eastern meal starts with Mezze. This can be an elaborate spread of forty or fifty hors d'oeuvres, little bits of tasty treats to please the palate.
The origin of the word mezze is unclear. It may be derived from the Persian "maza" meaning "taste, relish," or from the Arabic "mazmiz" which means to nibble at food. It may come from the Assyrian word 'mez' meaning table, and it would take many small tables to serve mezze. However we view the origin, it represents the pleasure of savoring little pieces of food. The mezze tradition extends from Turkey into the Balkans, including Greece, and spreads to Middle east countries.
~ The soup was delightful. A Middle Eastern (Syrian) chard & lentil concoction. It was room temperature and had a lemony flavor. The lentils gave it a nice weight.
~ Starting at the top of the plate:This bread was AMAZING! It's about 1/2 as thin as a regular tortilla and very soft...at first! When it sits out for a bit it crisps up a bit and acts more like a chip than a bread. I used to to cleanse my palate in between bites and to wrap around goodies like baby burritos! Underneath the bread is a spoonful of hummus. It was traditional and predictable and tasty.
~ The little green/yellow slice is an egg dish. It was minty and savory but not strong. It was mixed in a pan then baked in the same pan: BRILLIANT!
~ The Ful Nabed or Bissara is a Dried Fava Bean Puree. Oh my GOODNESS! It was definitely one of my favorites. The texture, taste, very smooth and savory!
~ The radish salad was tangy and had the essence of orange. It gave it a delightful flavor.
~ The red goo tasted just like that: red goo. Red pepper, tomato, garlic, seedy and a bit bitter. Not my favorite...can you tell?
~ That tasty little ball of heaven is called LABNEH!!! It's a yogurt cheese that DANCES on the tongue! It's great by itself and spreads smoothly. It has a zingy bite to it. It's worth the trip to the specialty market!
~ The dill yogurt dip is delightful! It's light and refreshing and would be a good compliment a heavier dish.
~ The orange grainy stuff has walnuts and pomegranates. It was really zippy.
~ The beige dollop is baba ganouch. It's made with eggplant and evidently LOTS of garlic! Yum!
~ The two green spoonfuls in the middle had spinach and chard. I can't figure out the names LOL!
After several hours of wonderful instruction and TONS of ideas we had lunch!
Anya is setting everything up. It's all beautiful as usual!
~ Grilled watermelon? VERY INTERESTING! They brushed it with olive oil and grilled both sides. It tasted strangely of smoky meat (probably from a seasoned grill). It was a bit slimy, but when you add the yogurt sauce it's much better.
~ The soup is a chicken based so I didn't try that (I only realized after I took some).
~ The naan bread was homemade by Cyndi Young It was incredible! Soft, chewy, and filling!
~ Basamati Rice "the only rice" according to Anya.
~ Another helping of Labneh YUM!
~ Couscous salad with the BIGGEST coucous I've ever seen! The herbs made it fresh and crunchy!
~ Salatet Felfel wal Tamatem: Roast Pepper and Tomato Salad: slimy and cold but good spices.
~ Grilled eggplant with pomegranate. It was almost candied. Great on the rice.
~ In the middle there is a zucchini dish that was supposed to have crispy chick peas but we substituted black eyed peas. The flavor was very bland.
This is the Middle Eastern version of Bread & Olive oil~ The oil here is complemented with Za'tar (a typical seasoning that's added to LOTS of dishes) and Dukkah, my favorite. It's sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, pepper and hazelnuts. We used almonds here. It's nutty and I think I'd like it on a wrap to give a big CRUNCH! The dill/cucumber and yogurt dip is just delicious! Refreshing!
I wish I could attend the Indian cooking class!