Monday, July 6, 2015
Time for Meze in ISRAEL
You barely sit down at the table, and, even before getting the menu, you see some restaurant employees bringing you a big glass of lemonade or chilled water and one of them holds a platter with lots of small bowls which they place on your table.
These are the Meze, or, starters. It is a word I have heard being used in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus as well (I'm including only my personal travels here) for small bites of a dish. Usually put in the middle of the table, to share. Just a way of making a feast out of every meal. And it's about the spirit of community, of enjoying together, of sharing with your friends, family and all your loved ones.
But it is also about the pleasure of eating and what better way to discover a community or a culture than through its food. Meze in Israel have a wonderful mix of influences, most of them due to the great location at the Mediterranean but also very Eastern and with Arabic influence. Hoummus is never missing, but you also find a lot of dishes with or made from eggplants, you see salads made of carrots with spring onions but also ones from carrots with fresh coriander leaves (wonderful combination - I used this recipe at home as well).
Here you can see how a table for two can look like in Israel... and all my cousin and I ordered were the mains (on the plates in front of us). Yes, the mains are rather expensive (and from the countries I've traveled to, Israel was unfortunately one of the more expensive ones when it came to food), but we got all what was put there in front of us, plus tea and desert at the end of what we can call a feast, not a lunch! Oh, and in case we would have been starving, we would have gotten refills on those meze, with no extra charge. In the end, it is so important that with only one lunch/dinner, you can learn so much about the culinary culture of a country and about what locals do when they meet: enjoy live to the fullest!