Your Guide To Turkish Appetizers (Meze)

All The Best Turkish Hot And Cold Starters

plates of different Turkish meze

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In Turkey, meals are family and social events and can last for hours on end, especially if you're dining out.

Turkish cuisine is particularly famous for its wide selection of appetizers and starters. When we say "appetizer or starter," we don't mean a small dish before served before the main meal. We're referring to several rounds of delectable hot and cold treats that often end up being the main attraction.

Meze Or Main Course?

In Turkish cuisine, these mini-courses are called meze (meh'-ZEH'). When dining out, meze selections are usually brought out and presented on a huge tray for diners to choose from. This is a spectacular experience.

The chosen meze are then brought out and served one by one. 'Meze' is always eaten slowly together with drinks and a lot of good conversation.

The first round of meze is always cold selections followed by the second round of hot dishes. You can feel so full after hours of sampling meze that you won't have room for the main course.

Meze is usually accompanied by either soft drinks or wine and Turkish rakı (rah-KUH'), an anise-flavored liquor similar to ouzo and arak. Old friends often choose to gather around what's called a "rakı table." Here, they choose to enjoy their favorite meze dishes and reminisce over a bottle of rakı and skip the main course altogether.

Meze Is Everywhere

In Turkey, you'll find some form of meze wherever you go. Whether you eat a modest meal at someone's home, run down to the corner restaurant, or go to a fine restaurant in one of Turkey's big cities, you'll always be presented with several delicious meze dishes to choose from.

If you enjoy having an appetizer or starter before your dinner, you'll definitely appreciate Turkish meze and the Turkish way of dining.

Tailor-made Meze

There are few cuisines in the world that can rival Turkish cuisine when it comes to meze. The selection of meze that's offered before your meal depends on what you choose as your main course. Completely different line-ups of meze are traditionally served with either fish or meat fare.

The best way to explain the richness and variety of Turkish meze is to show you. Here is a list of the most common dishes that accompany either fish or meat:

Meze Served With Fish And Seafood

Meze Served With Grilled Meats

How is that for a power line-up of meze? Keep in mind, these are only the most common, standard meze dishes. There are endless variations to choose from that change from region to region and from season to season. Try your own combinations and create Turkish-style meze of your own.