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Meze makers spill their beans in Turkey's Mediterranean port

Turkey’s first Meze Festival held in Antalya Sept. 14 brought together chefs from Beirut to Athens, to showcase how a handful of beans may yield different tastes across the region.

The word “meze” refers to a selection of cold and hot appetizers served in the Middle East, the Balkans and parts of Central Asia. While meze was part of all the cuisines in the Ottoman Empire, the word does not originate from one of the languages used in the Empire — Turkish, Arabic or even Greek — but has its roots in the neighboring Persian Empire. The Persian word “maze” means “taste or snack,” and “mazidan” means “to taste."

It is not known exactly how mezes spread across the region or where the first meze was served, but it is a shared cultural heritage that can be traced back to different countries. Mezes often complement the consumption of alcoholic drinks, such as the popular anise-flavored drink known as raki, rakia, arak, ouzo, tsipouro or mastika, depending on the country where it is served. Cold and hot mezes are served as a starter or as a full meal.

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