Episode 1 – Mezza

Mezze dishes

Mezza is a traditional Lebanese starter meal eaten with friends and family. It includes a variety of starter dishes and salads. The appetizers are served in small plates and shared by everyone on the table. There are dozens of different mezza dishes, and each family has their own recipes and stories of mezza meals together. In this episode, Leen tells us about this tradition and her favorite mezza dish.

Lebanese-Arabic Transcript and English Contextual Translation


أهلا وسهلا فيكن بحلقة جديدة من لانغويج وايف. أنا لين واليوم رح نحكي عن موضوع كتير مهم بالثقافة اللبنانية، موضوع بمثّل لبنان بصورة كتير حلوة بقلب لبنان وبالخارج كمان، حنحكي شوي عن المازة اللبنانية.

Welcome to a new episode of Language Wave! I am Leen, and today we are going to talk about a very important topic in Lebanese culture, a topic that represents Lebanon in a very beautiful way inside and outside Lebanon as well. We will be talking a little bit about Lebanese mezza.


كتير منا سامع بالمازة اللبنانية بس كتير ما بيعرف شو يعني مازة. وهلأ وبكم دقيقة رح إحكي شوي عن هيدا الموضوع. حنحكي شو يعني مازة لبنانية وشو هي الأطباق يلي بتكوّن المازة اللبنانية ولشو بترمز. وبعدين حإحكي شوي عن حالي وقول شو أكتر طبق أنا بحبو بالمازة وليش.

Many of us have heard of “Lebanese mezza” but many do not know what “mezza” means. Now, and in a few minutes, I will talk a little bit about this subject. We will be talking about what “mezza” means, what the dishes composing the Lebanese mezza are, and what mezza symbolizes. Afterwards, I will talk a little bit about myself, and I will tell you which dish I love the most and why.


أول شي، شو هيّي المازة اللبنانية؟ المازة اللبنانية هي عبارة عن أطباق أكل ووجبات خفيفة وصغيرة، بتتقدم على السفرة قبل ما تتقدم الوجبة الرئيسية، والهدف منا إنو تهيئ القاعد على السفرة وتفتحلو نفسو لبعدين ياكل الوجبة الرئيسية.

First of all, what is the Lebanese mezza? Lebanese mezza consists of small and light food dishes and snacks that are served at the dining table before the main dish is served. Its purpose is to prepare the person sitting at the table and increase his appetite so he could then eat the main dish.


بتتألف المازة اللبنانية من كتير أطباق وبتتعدد بمكوناتا. ففي منا معمول بخضرا، وفي منا معمول بلحمة، وفي أطباق تانية معمولة من لحمة وخضرا. ومن أكتر أطباق المازة اللبنانية المشهورة والمعروفة منذكر: بابا غنوج، متبل بحمص، ورق عنب بزيت، بطاطا حرة، هندبة، فتوش، وتبولة، وكمان ما مننسى الكبة يلي بتتنوع بين الكبة المقلية، الكبة النيّة، والكبة المشوية وغيرا كتير من الأطباق.

The Lebanese mezza consists of many dishes and vary in its ingredients. Some of it are made up of vegetables, others are made up of meat, and other dishes are made up of both meat and vegetables. Of the most popular and famous Lebanese mezza dishes, we mention: Baba Ghanouj, Hummus, grape leaves with oil, spicy potatoes, Hindbi, Fattush, and Tabbouleh. Let us not forget Kibbeh, which varies between fried Kibbeh, raw Kibbeh, and baked Kibbeh, in addition to many other dishes.


ويلي بميّز المازة اللبنانية كمان، إنو هيّ عبارة عن أكتر من وجبات أكل وبس، هيّ عبارة عن رمز اجتماعي بتقرّب وبتقوّي العلاقة بين الرفقة والأهل والأصحاب، وبتخلق ذكريات كتير حلوة. فشو في شي ممكن يقوّي العلاقة بين الرفقة والأهل غير إنو ياكلو على سفرة وحدة ومن نفس الأطباق؟ فهيك منلاقي بكل جَمعة لبنانية حلوة في مازة.

What distinguishes the Lebanese mezza is that it is more than merely meals. It is like a social symbol that strengthens the relationship between companions, family members, and friends, brings them closer to each other, and creates very sweet memories. What could possibly strengthen the relationship with companions and family members other than eating at one table and from the same dishes? This is how we find that at every beautiful Lebanese gathering there is Mezza.


و أنا شخصيًا بحب المازة اللبنانية كتير. وأكتر طبق بالمازة اللبنانية بحبو هوي التبولة. ليه؟ لأنو من أربع سنين، كانت أول مرة بطلع فيا على ضيعتي. قرايبين بيّي عزمونا عالضيعة وبوقتا كانت أول مرة بزور فيا ضيعتي الحلوة وبتعرف على أهلا الكرما و الحلوين وعلى أكلا الطيب. بهيداك النهار كنا معزومين على الغدا، ووقت نقول غدا لبناني أكيد منفكر مازة. المازة اللبنانية هي جزء ما بيتجزأ من السفرة اللبنانية.

Personally, I love the Lebanese mezza a lot. My favorite Lebanese mezza dish is “Tabbouleh”. Why? Because four years ago, I visited my village for the first time. My father’s relatives invited us to the village, and it was the first time I visit my beautiful village, meet its generous and beautiful people, and taste its delicious food. That day, we were invited to a lunch, and when we say Lebanese lunch we definitely think about mezza. The Lebanese mezza is an integral part of the Lebanese food table.


وأول صحن حضرناه وأكلناه وقتا كان صحن التبولة. وليلّي ما بيعرف، التبولة هي نوع من المازة اللبنانية محضرا من خضرا وبتحتوي على بقدونس، بندورة، برغل، حامض، نعنع، بصل أخضر، زيت زيتون وملح. والخضرا يلي حطيناها بهيدا الصحن بوقتا، كانت كلا مقطّفة من الجنينة يلي حدّ البيت، فهي خضرا طبيعية عضوية أو بالانكليزي “organic”. قطفنا الخضرا سوا وحضّرنا صحن التبولة وتشاركنا بأكلو. وما بنسى هيدا النهار أبدًا لأنو كانت الأجواء حلوة والتبولة كانت طيبة.

The first dish that we prepared and ate back then was the “Tabbouleh” dish. For those who do not know, Tabbouleh is a kind of Lebanese mezza that is made up of vegetables and consists of parsley, tomatoes, bulgur, lemon, mint, green onions, olive oil, and salt. The vegetables we used for this dish back then were picked from the garden next to the house. Thus, all of these vegetables were natural and organic. We picked the vegetables together, prepared the tabbouleh dish, and ate it together. I never forget this beautiful day because the atmosphere was beautiful, and the Tabbouleh was delicious.


والحلو بالمازة اللبنانية إنو بتخلق ذكريات كتير حلوة، لأنّا بتكون بالجمعات والأجواء الحلوة. فلهلأ كل ما بدوق صحن التبولة بتذكر هيدا النهار. ومن وقتا التبولة هي الطبق المفضل عندي بالمازة اللبنانية.

What is nice about the Lebanese mezza is that it creates very beautiful memories because it is found in gatherings and beautiful ambiances. Up until now, every time I taste the Tabbouleh dish, I remember this day. And since then, Tabbouleh has been my favorite dish in Lebanese mezza.


وهيك منكون حكينا اليوم شوي عن المازة اللبنانية وعلى شو بتحتوي وأيمتى ومع مين بتتاكل ولشو بترمز، وبكون حكيت شوي عن حالي وخبرتكن عن طبقي المفضل بالمازة اللبنانية  ولي هو طبقي المفضل.

So we have talked today a little bit about the Lebanese mezza, its components, when and with whom it is eaten, and what it symbolizes. Also, I have talked a little bit about myself, told you about my favorite Lebanese mezza dish, and why it is my favorite dish.


ولهون بتكون خلصت حلقتنا لليوم. ونحنا متل العادة منحب دايمًا نسمع إقترحاتكن وتعليقاتكن على حلقاتنا. بتمنى تكون عجبتكن حلقتنا، وبتمنى شوفكن بحلقات جديدة من لانغويج وايف. شكرا كتير ومع السلامة!

Till here, our episode for today would be done. And as usual, we always like to hear your suggestions and comments on our episodes. I hope you liked our episode, and I hope to see you in new episodes of Language Wave. Thank you very much and goodbye!

Comprehension Questions (try to answer the questions while speaking out loud to yourself and using full sentences in Lebanese-Arabic)

  1. How would you describe Lebanese mezza?
  2. What are the names of some popular mezza dishes?
  3. What is Leen’s favorite mezza dish, and what memory does she associate it with?
  4. What are some of the ingredients in Leen’s favorite mezza dish?
  5. How would you describe the social role that mezza plays in Lebanese culture?


Vocabulary Table

# Lebanese-Arabic English Transliteration English Translation
1 طبق Tabaa Dish/Plate
2 معمولة Maa’mouleh Made
3 برغل Burgul Bulgur
4 مشهورة Mash-houra Famous
5 مميز Momayyaz Special
6 بقدونس Baadounis Parsley
7 بندورة Banadoura Tomato
8 حامض Hamod Lemon
9 وجبات خفيفة Wajbet khafifeh Snacks
10 الوجبة الرئيسية Al-wajbe Al-Ra’isiyyeh Main dish
11 مكوناتا Mokawineta Ingredients
12 ذكريات Zekrayet Memories
13 جَمعة Jam’aa Gathering
14 شخصيًا Shakhsiyan Personally
15 كنا معزومين Kena maa’zoumin We were invited

8 thoughts on “Episode 1 – Mezza

    1. Wonderfully helpful. This is just what I was looking for. Simple – but realistic – arabic that I can understand (more or less) and reuse

  1. Amazing website! Very happy to have found a resource like this when there is so little material around on Lebanese Arabic. These lessons are great 🙂

  2. I love these podcasts with the translation and original script. I also like the option to control the speed and rewind and fast forward easily. Your voices are very clear and the accents are lovely. My Arabic is quite good but I do miss a lot when I hear Lebanese speak, I think this will be very helpful to improve my comprehension. Alf shukr!

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