Mystified by mezze? It’s the mediterranean meal deal otherwise known as tapas, hors d’ oevres or the good old British starter. Oh, and Americans say appetizer, while the French adore their entrées.
Wait a minute! First we need a quick french fanfare (courtesy of Wikipedia!)
”The word entrée is French. It originally denoted the “entry” of the dishes from the kitchens into the dining hall. In the illustration from a French fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of the Histoire d’Olivier de Castille et d’Artus d’Algarbe, a fanfare from trumpeters in the musicians’ gallery announces the processional entrée of a series of dishes preceded by a covered cup that is the ancestor of the tureen, carried by the maître d’hôtel.”
Britain made some good moves in this direction with the Cocktail Party and Canapé Reception.
Mezze is a prelude to a meal or evening together. And in Persian it simply means ‘a pleasing taste.’
But what if you just want to stay with the starters trying tantalising little mouthfuls of what-you-don’t-yet-know-you-fancy? You’re not in the mood for old favourites; you want to be suprised and enticed to choose Something New.
Perhaps you’re not even very hungry after the steak and chips lunch but you really don’t need another packet of the salty stuff with your glass of vino?
Or you’re looking forwards to welcoming a houseful of friends for the evening and don’t want to do the trumpets of a 4 course dinner party but you do love to eat great food?
Heard of the Mediterranean Diet? It’s about the sun, the colours of the earth and what’s in season. You go to the market. You choose what delights you. Half an hour before eating you cut selected vegetables into bite-sized pieces and serve with toasted pitta bread or focaccia, and a dip.
If you love aubergine (& garlic & olive oil) you will love this mediterranean smoked dip.
Aubergine Dip (Baba Ganoush)
You will need 2 aubergine, tahini,1 lemon, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, paprika and fresh parsley.
- Chargrill the aubergine on the barbecue or on your gas ring until the skins are completely blackened, and it is soft.
- Rinse under cold water, while discarding either end, and scraping off all the skin.
- Mash with a fork (doing this electrically spoils the texture… don’t be tempted!), and add 3 tbs of tahini.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil slowly until you have a pleasing ‘dippable’ consistency.
- Add salt, 2 cloves of garlic and black pepper.
- Spread with circular motions on a flat plate, leaving a slight dip in the middle in which to drizzle olive oil.
- Garnish with sweet, red paprika and fresh parsley.
And if you have a Pomegranate tree in your garden by all means feel free to garnish with these jewel-like seeds.
Here’s another recipe for a mediterranean style dip.
What is your preferred way of preparing a meal to enjoy with friends?