The mezza was born in Zahle Lebanon in the 1920s. The word is an abbreviation from al-lumazza: "that which is savoured". It is now the form of the traditional Lebanese meal -- a meal that extends both in space and time. A large number of entr?es, up to 30 for exceptional occasions, are laid on the table until there's no space left whatsoever. Rather than serving from the dishes into individual plates, the guests eat straight from the dishes, using folded pieces of bread as spoons. After the entr?es comes the grilled meat and chicken done on the "fahm" -- in other words, skewered and barbecued. Fruits are the usual dessert, unless the meal is really lavish, and Turkish or white coffee concludes it. A Lebanese meal is not just about eating, it is about laying back, exchanging news and laughing with friends; a drink of arak (grape spirits) and a narguileh pipe are a must. The meal can very easily last 4 hours or more: I suspect that the reason why so many mezza dishes are made is to make it last as long as possible without ever leaving the table empty of things to munch on.