A typical Middle Eastern meal begins with mezze, a spread of salads and appetizers, as well as an assortment of pickles. My Sito had mezze every Saturday for lunch. Salads galore – beet salad, Israeli salad, potato salad, babaghanouj, humus, carrots – were served with lahamagene, those delightful mini meat pies flavored with tamarind paste. There are always a variety of homemade pickles made from turnips, cauliflower and green peppers, as well as cold pick up foods.
Before mezze, the entire morning is spent setting the table and preparing an array of fresh salads including potatoes, beans, avocado and lettuce salads. These were always several kinds of olives, including kalamata and green olives. A proper mezze table will have at least four to six salads, served on small plates. For a large group, and there are two or three plates of each item, carefully laid out in groups so they can be within the grasp of each person. The result is a magnificent table with all kinds of interesting foods and something for even the choosiest eaters.
And of course, Mezze is always served with warm pita bread.