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Cypriot Mezedes

If you ever visit Cyprus never order à la Carte.In Cypriot restaurants or tavernas your will see that they serve meze (plural mezedes) on their menu.Cypriot cuisine is famous for its mezedes, which translate as appetizers.

Don’t think as mezedes being small appetizer plates as starters but Cypriot mezedes are more than just starters but a meal on its own, where people gather to eat and enjoy some drinks.

Cypriot mezedes include a variety between 20 – 30 dishes depending on the restaurant. The dishes served depend on the speciality of the restaurant as well as the season.The price of each meze depends on the variety each restaurant offers and the price indicated is always for 2 persons, so in the menu a variety of starters is included and then for the main meze dishes if you are two persons eating, there will be two pieces of halloumi, two souvlakia, two sheftalia, two loukanika etc.So, if you are a group of six you just order mezedes for 6 and get mezedes X 3.

Because of the wide variety of mezedes you can get fish mezedes, meat mezedes, mixed mezedes (which include both fish and meat) and even vegetarian mezedes.

Some mezedes are common in both meat or fish mezedes and as soon as you order they will start bringing the cold appetizers, four or five dishes each time.

Taramosalata, tahini, hoummous, elies tsakistes (crushed green olives), xydata (pickled vegetables, like panzaria (beets) or mouggra (pickled cauliflower in bread dough), mushrooms, zalatina, tsamarella (which consists of goat meat that is salted and cured for preservation. The process of preparation traditionally involves drying in the sun), tambouli and Horiatiki or village salad and of course a lot of grilled pita bread.

After that other small meat or fish dishes and grills start coming and finally more substantial dishes such as whole fish or meat stews.These dishes include karaolous or saliggaria (snails in tomato sauce), koupepia (stuffed vine leaves or Swiss chard), afelia, ofton kleftiko, kouneli or lagos stifado (rabbit stew), black olives grilled, grilled halloumi, souvlakia, sheftalia, grilled lamb ribs, grilled chicken, keftedes (meat balls), grilled lountza (smoked pork loin), grilled loukaniko (Cypriot sausage) etc.

The same applies for fish mezedes and after the starters you will be served kalamari, crab croquettes, shrimps, cuttlefish, octopus, a variety of fish, such as red mullet, sword fish souvlaki, white bait, sand smelt, cod, oysters and mussels.In expensive restaurants you can even get crawfish, crabs or lobster.

This is my contribution to Anne of Morsel & Musings, who is hosting the event Earth Hour.

I have already blogged about this on BloggerAid but for those who are not yet aware of this event, on the 28th March we will switch off the lights at 8:30 p.m. In 2009, Earth Hour will take place in more than 80 countries around the world, proving that climate change really is a global threat and that it will take all of us to work together to solve it.   Earth Hour hopes to reach one billion people.

I am very glad that responding quickly to this initiative, a small country like Greece is now in now ranking fifth in this global effort, after Australia, France, Belgium and Canada.  On the 28th, many Greek monuments, such as the Acropolis, the Lycabettus Monument in Athens, the White Tower in Thessaloniki and many castles in different towns, will not be illuminated.

Sign up and vote online here.

On the 28th we shall be enjoying some mezedes which don’t need cooking:  taramosalata, tahini, halloumi, lountza, horiatiki, tzatziki, elies tsakistes and a bottle of Cypriot wine under candle lights.

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20 Responses

  1. This is a fantastic guide to Cyprian mezedes Ivy…I love all the pictures and exlanations.

  2. Wow that all looks delicious. Thank you for telling us all about it. (Although now I’m dying to go to Cyprus!)

  3. I hope to someday visit Cyprus and have traditional halloumi.

  4. I’d rather have a selection of mezes than a ‘proper meal’…any day!

  5. I too wish i would be able to visit cyprus ans enjoy these delicious food.

  6. We have a little Greek Taverna where I live and I have visited a few times. I just adore the selection of mezes – at the end of the meal there is singing dancing and breaking of a plate …. what a great evening had by all.

  7. What a spread! I am glad I learned that the correct plural of meze.

  8. What fabulous food! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wow Ivy! That is quite an array of mezedes. They all look fantastic and it has been a couple of years since I have enjoyed lountza. I used to work in an accounting office owned by Cypriot friends and we used to order lunch from a nearby Cypriot restaurant at least twice a week–one of my favorites was lountza halloumi on a pita with tomato, cucumber and parsley.

  10. Oooh, my mouth is watering! I’m coming back to Greece someday…I’m ready now!!!

  11. That’s fabulous Ivy – wonderful food, and such a birght and sunny setting.

  12. What a great spread Ivy! Plus I love the presentation… each photo with their tittle at the side… really nice!!!!!

    Mezedes look a bit like our tapas. I could live on that 😀

  13. DONA

    nice presentation
    very nice

  14. Very nice Inforamtion Ivy! Loved reading it & seeing all the pictures.

  15. Great tips! This is the type of information that can make a trip to a foreign country. What is the difference between mezedes and tapas (other than one word being Spanish and one Greek)?

  16. I like the option of ordering a set-piece of mezedes…speeds up the ordering process and as always…sharing is encouraged!

  17. yumm…yumm… After looking at your mezedes, I told my friends that I should marry a Greek 😀 When I’m back in my country, it’s really difficult to find truly original Greek Restaurants. There’s none in my island and if I have to find one… it’s 369 km (at the capital city) from my town! I have to go by car or… plane 🙁 Even so, that restaurant serves Italian as well…weird.

    You have friends interested opening a Greek Restaurants in my island? 😀 There’s too much Italian, Asian and 1 Bulgarian Restaurant to play about but sadly no Greek. I have to make my own Greek Coffee and frappe as there’s no cafeteria knew how to make it yet we have Greek tourists 😀

  18. Ivy

    (lol)Pixen may be we should open a restaurant together.

  19. tina

    I love koupes, they are my favourite, I have just found a lady (friend of my yia yia) and she makes them and sells them, I thought all my xmas’s had come at once BUT I will try make my own now thanks to you.

  20. Jacob

    Very nice information Ivy! Loved reading it & seeing all the pictures. Thanks for the awesome info…