A casual Lebanese appetizer platter with breads!
Mezza means the equivalent of appetizer when referring to food in Lebanese. The Italian language has a similar word, mezzi or mezzo and that word means half. When working in an Italian restaurant kitchen, mezzi refers to a half order or half portion of a pasta for a side dish. There are many words in the Latin languages that have their roots in Arabic, Hebrew, Egyptian and Persian languages. Italian mezzi or Lebanese mezza, both refer to appetizer size portions.
As you can see in the pictures above, I went shopping at the Mediterranean Market in Las Vegas! This market is stocked full of middle eastern food items. I limit myself to shopping with a hand basket, so I do not purchase more items than I can carry. That keeps me from going way over budget! I chose some nice items to make an appetizer plate with at the Mediterranean Market.
There really is nothing much as far as demanding techniques are concerned when designing a modestly nice looking casual appetizer platter. Platters that are designed for nobility are a little more challenging to prepare. Even so, the ingredients on any appetizer platter should be fit for a king! Why put something that looks like dog food on crackers and call it pate? Yuck! Each item on an appetizer plate should look appealing. Do not worry about other peoples tastes and do not only offer items that appeal to your own taste. Part of being a fine chef requires that a chef never cooks for personal taste!
If there is a variety of items on an appetizer platter, then surely some of the items will appeal. It takes a good server to express the ideas of combining certain items on an appetizer platter to create interest in unforeseen new flavor combinations to guests! Just like saying to a guest "The Lebanese Village Cheese with the sweet rosebud jam and a slice of pickled lemon on a piece of tonir lavash is really an interesting combination of sweet sour and light savory that you should try!" while assembling the combination for the guest to try. That is service! While the guest is listening and imagining the flavors, the combination of flavors is being assembled by the server and before the guest realizes it, the guest is now munching on the simple delightful creation and saying "mmmmmmmm!" Ha ha ha! Interaction with guests within the bounds of social serving etiquette is the key, when hand passing appetizers at an event or party.
For a casual appetizer platter for a card game or enjoying a sunset, the chef is usually the host, or the home owner. As a home kitchen cook, knowledge about the items on an appetizer platter that you offer guest will come in handy when the interested guests ask questions about the food on the platter. Not only does the home cook present the items, the home cook has to cause interest in the items while suggesting combining certain items on an appetizer platter to create new taste sensations. This is part of entertaining!
The items on the casual appetizer platter in the pictures are presented nicely with space between many of the items for a less crowded feel. Items that go well together are not necessarily placed next to each other! The breads are on a separate platter to reduce bread crumbs from landing on the ingredients of the feature platter. For a small wheel of cheese, present the whole wheel with part of it carved into slices or wedges. A contrast of colors and neat simple modest petite arrangements makes this platter appealing to the eye.
A theme or underlying them for an appetizer platter is important too. For this Lebaneze Mezza, two items can be considered to be firsts of their kind. The Tonil Lavash was the first lavash recipe ever created and the Lebanese Village Cheese was one of the very first cheeses to be created! When presenting those two items on a mezza together, be sure to inform the guests about the nature of the special treat that they are about to enjoy!
The ingredients on the Lebanese Mezza platter:
- Lebanese Village Cheese
- Arabic Black Olives
- Sliced Pickled Lemon
- Sliced Pickled Persian Wild Cucumber
- Persian Rosebud Jam
- Brinjal (Highly spiced eggplant and tamarind spread)
- Spicy Turkish Harissa Hot Sauce
- Italian Parsley for a garnish
The ingredients for the bread platter:
Whole Wheat Tonil Lavash (The first lavash recipe created!)
Mediterranean Ring Bread
Small Khubz Arabi (Small Pita Bread)
Try making a nice Lebanese Mezza platter like this one sometime or create your own with other Lebanese and middle eastern ingredients. Appetizers platters like this inspire good conversation and smiles! Yum! ... Shawna