Mezze: Delicious Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek Recipes
Mezze, the myriad dishes of the splendid hors d'oeuvres to traditional Arab meals, comes from the Italian word mezzano, meaning middle. Coined by the Genoese spice traders, it was absorbed into the Greek, Turkish and Arabic languages in different forms, and reflects the multicultural origins of this exciting cuisine. Throughout history, successive empires have brought waves of culinary influence to the kitchen tables of the Near East. As Alexander the Great pushed his empire to India, as the Romans marched across Arabia and the Sassanid kings held sway in Persia, so too did foods, recipes and ideas move from country to country, culminating in the legendary court banquets of the Caliphs of Baghdad. Frankincense and pearls were traded for spices on the Silk Route, the Ottomans conquered Constantinople and the French colonised the Levant - adding further layers to the heady mix of this cosmopolitan blend. Combining Indian spices with Mediterranean ingredients, the result is an exceptionally tasty and varied repertoire of dishes which are easy to make from readily available ingredients.
Rosamond Man has selected the best recipes from across the region, and each chapter takes both the imagination and the tastebuds on a journey around these countries. The chapter on fish includes kalamari in Greece, mussels in Istanbul, trout from the river Tigris and sardines in Tunisia. Salads based on spinach, beans or mushrooms, complemented with the flavours of oranges, olives or peppers, will give new inspiration to health-food lovers. Stuffed vine-leaves and pastries, breads flavoured with cheese or olives, and dips for pitta or sesame bread will give fresh ideas for light lunches, accompaniments and snacks or finger-food. Meat and poultry dishes with rice or pulses make filling meals in their own right, and vegetable dishes complete the full range of dishes which any Western cook would want.
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