There is a fine food tradition in Turkey, going back hundreds of years to the royal kitchens. Dinners with family and/or friends are special and it is considered very poor form for individual family members to fix themselves a meal separate from the rest of the family. The tradition of the Turkish meze platter is an essential part of Turkish culture.
Turkish mezes are perfect for social gatherings and are designed to promote talking.Turkish mezes are small quantities of food served at the start of a meal. They are usually cold and the emphasis is on fresh, healthy ingredients. Also they are usually vegetarian.
It is normal to start a meal with a Turkish meze platter accompanied by copious amounts of bread. Turkish mezes are therefore similar to Spanish tapas but tend to be cold rather than hot.
Ordering Turkish Meze at a Restaurant
Whether eating in a restaurant or hosting a meal at home, most meals begin with mixed mezes. Most restaurants will supply 1 or 2 mezes free of charge but most Turkish people will want to supplement with additional plates.
Many Turkish restaurants don’t have menus so you will be invited by your waiter to go up to the kitchen and inspect the mezes. The waiter will explain each dish. Most restaurants have a selection of 20 or so mezes, all made freshly on the day. So for a table of 2, it is usual to have 3 or 4 mezes.
Turkish Meze Traditions
Turkey has a fine heritage and rich traditions around liquor. Turkish meze should be accompanied by wine or raki, an anise flavored liquor known as “lion’s milk”. It is usual to dilute raki by adding water to it, upon which it will turn cloudy. Most Turkish people select raki as their accompaniment rather than wine.
There are many types of Turksih mezes to choose from. Typically there will be vegetable-based dips, marinated vegetables, salads and breads. It is all very social with the plates being placed in the center for guests to help themselves.
It is typical for Turkish mezes to be served over a long duration, often 2 hours before the main course is served. It is also typical to eat the mezes in a garden or balcony setting and then sit around and talk as the raki takes effect!
Normally a main course of grilled fish or grilled meat will follow the mezes.
Turkish Mezes are certainly a great way to start a meal and healthy to boot.
Today’s Turkish meze menu has 5 mezes to choose from and It is a lovely contrast of tastes and colors.
And please let us know what you think, leave us a comment below.