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Turkish Meze

What is meze?

Turkeys' culture, society, architecture, and cuisine has been heavily influenced by its geography. Having eight different countries border Turkey has meant that food especially, is an amalgamation of all of these cultures. Although Turkey's nightlife with tables of liquor made the Meze popular, it now appears in everyday life without Rakı (the Turkish Liquor). You can find ready-to-eat mezes in supermarkets near your property or make them yourselves easily. The word is found in all the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and originated from the Turkish word meaning a snack or appetiser. This, in turn, originated from the Persian word "maza", which means to taste or relish. 

Meze is not an actual meal. But only appetizers for any meal you want to eat in Turkey. Turkish mezes come in different forms, and you can choose any of them as your appetizer. Among the most popular Turkish mezes include eggplant, salads, and yoghurt. In the coastal regions of Turkey, you will find people having an evening affair where they have live music with meze delicacies that have been paired with Balik Ekmek, traditional liquorice alcoholic drink, and fish. 

Mezes are essentially snack foods that are fancier than chips both calorie-wise and looks. Most lack carbs in their ingredients, but can sure make you feel full if eaten excessively. Famously delicious mezes are made with a mixture of yoghurt with vegetables, therefore making a great alternative to late-night cravings. 


 Sarma is quite fulfilling with a dash of yoghurt on top. It is vine leaves wrapped around rice with a sprinkle of meat (depending on the region). Since Sarma is often served in individual pieces, and without meat in them, they are offered as just 5-7 pieces per order on a plate at restaurants. Making them a great choice for meze tables with multiple guests. Sarma is so popular that it is one of the topmost sold frozen food in Turkish markets. 


This is a small plate of yoghurt mixing with garlic, spices, and a dash of leaves. It's similar to cacik in that it contains garlic but differs because it contains no cucumber and uses strained yoghurt or labne  Its simplicity reminds the eater of Sour Cream because it holds its shape. In Restaurants, especially on Rakı tables that prefer to not eat a meal, Haydari is almost the first choice in Mezes for the way it keeps the table guests' hunger at bay. This meze has become an instant classic and is lovely spread on the local bread. 

 Pasted Eggplant (Patlıcan Ezmesi) 

One of the yummiest of the meze dishes available. Made by charring aubergines or eggplant as its otherwise known as, and then mashing in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, parsley and a little salt. Try not to over mash it as it's best eaten slightly chunky with flatbread or crudites. 

 Deniz Börülcesi 

This is a tricky one to translate because deniz means sea and Börülcesi means a black eye pea. It is not the pea part that is served, but the green weed inside. It is more commonly known in Europe as Marsh Samphire or glasswort. It is eaten with a blend of lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and is delicious. Eating this connects you with a long and ancient dish traditionally eaten by the Turks. It is however now a days it's commonly eaten by people from the Netherlands, Japan and France and is known as Sea Asparagus.  

Meze means many things to many different cultures but if you go into a decent Turkish restaurant and ask for Meze, the waiter should bring you a sample table for you to look at (but it could just be a menu). On here you can also find beyaz peynir (white cheese) and acılı ezme (hot pepper paste with tomatoes) kalamar tava (calamari or squid) midye dolma (stuffed mussels). So, the next time you're here in Turkey on holiday, why not be adventurous and live like a local, maybe even try it with the traditional drink Raki. You won't regret it.