Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served to accompany alcoholic drinks in the Near East, the Balkans, and parts of Central Asia. In Levantine, Caucasian, and Balkan cuisines, meze is often served at the beginning of multi-course meals. The word is found in all the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and comes from Persian مزه (mazze "taste, snack" < mazīdan "to taste").
In Lebanon and Cyprus, meze is often a meal in its own right. There are vegetarian, meat or fish mezes. Groups of dishes arrive at the table about 4 or 5 at a time (usually between five and ten groups). There is a set pattern to the dishes: typically olives, tahini, salad and yogurt will be followed by dishes with vegetables and eggs, then small meat or fish dishes alongside special accompaniments, and finally more substantial dishes such as whole fish or meat stews and grills. Establishments will offer their own specialities, but the pattern remains the same. Naturally the dishes served will reflect the seasons. For example, in late autumn, snails will be prominent. As so much food is offered, it is not expected that every dish be finished, but rather shared at will and served at ease. Eating meze is a social event.