EAT MORE PLANTS
We all have our private stores of images when it comes to foreign places, conjuring up colours, smells, aromas and most of all tastes. My memories of endless summers in Turkey usually revolve around leisurely meals served on trestle tables, with too much food to feed even the biggest family – stuffing ourselves under the shade of aging olive trees with the sun reflected off the blue Agean seas.
The tradition of ‘meze’ dates back to the ancient Greeks, Persians and Romans, as referring to small portions of flavoursome food to accompany a wine or spirit.
The word ‘maza’ supposedly originated from Persia, meaning ‘taste’ or ‘relish’. Similar to the Moorish development of tapas, these small plates can be hot or cold and range from a combination of fruit, olives, dips to more substantial portions of fish or meat.
In the new age of dining out, grazing over multiple plates of food paired with a grape to match the exact region and climate of the cuisine, has become somewhat of a norm. My partner, (a very hungry, strong-boned Italian) still holds a bit of a grudge when I drag him to these eateries, which arguably do often serve pretentiously small portions and rack up a not-so-small bill at the end of the night.
Maybe being a millennial with too many options to know what to do with, I’ve grown to resent a simple 3 course meal, as I’m not satisfied until I have a spoonful of everything in my mouth, at the same time. Creating a menu with a diverse range of flavour and ingredients, which all harmoniously rejoice together in one flavour-packed bite, is no easy feat. Merely creating one dish that ticks all those boxes of texture, heat, balance is an art in itself. However, there is something so magical about a spread of food laid out in front of you, like a glorious buffet of perfectly designed plates of food which blur the boundaries of starter, main and sides. And that is still my go-to when catering for any function. And of course there HAS to be bread.
From my recipe page I’ve chosen some of my favourite dishes, of which any combination will work together for you to create your own mezze spread: (click for links)
Making your own harissa paste is something I highly recommend to stir through any dips or baste simple veggies.
Dolma - Vine Leaf Rice Rolls (vegan)
OR Vegan Tahini Chocolate Sesame Brownies (vegan)