A mezé is not a meal course like an appetizer (although, mezé dishes can be served as appetizers), but rather a dish, hot or cold, spicy or savory, often salty, that is served alone or with other mezéthes as a separate eating experience.
The purpose of the mezé is twofold: to complement and enhance the taste of a drink (wines, ouzo, tsiporo, raki, etc.) and to provide the backdrop for a social gathering. It is common for groups of family and friends to gather or go out for mezéthes, share several of these delightful dishes, a drink, conversation, and laughter. The little plates are shared by everyone at the table, which not only provides a wonderful variety of flavor and texture sensations, but also creates the kind of happy, perhaps noisy, atmosphere for which Greeks are well known.
There are many dishes traditionally served as mezéthes; however, there’s a great deal of flexibility in what is included on the table. Mezéthes are served in no particular order, but more often than not, serving oneself means leaning over and around to take a fork or spoonful directly from the serving dish to the mouth. A typical table will include everything from two to four dishes and a few beverages to complement the food.