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Cyprus Food Guide

Cyprus Food

Cyprus cuisine could not remain immune to the different civilisations Cyprus has hosted over the past 3000 years. Various rulers, invaders, settlers and traders have come and gone, leaving their traces across the country and even influencing our taste preferences and culinary practices. A closer look at our traditional fare reveals an overlap of well-known flavours originating in Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Italy and even France. Of course, our climate and soil are to thank for the abundance of fresh local produce that dominates our shopping baskets and our kitchens, giving every meal that distinctive Mediterranean signature.

As in any cuisine, the quality of ingredients is quintessential. Fresh, natural ingredients are the key to a tasty dish – and we certainly have a great variety of local produce which we tend to take for granted. It often takes a visitor’s excitement to remind us how tasty our everyday menu is – from black and green olives and their cold-pressed aromatic oil, to crisp, mixed green salads topped with feta cheese. Our trademark cheese – halloumi – never goes unnoticed. With its unusual semi- soft, rubbery texture, it has been described as ‘the cheese that doesn’t melt’ and is even more delicious when grilled or fried and served piping hot. While halloumi can be made from goat’s or cow’s milk, or a mixture of both, it is a standard item in every fridge. Synonymous with Cyprus, it is exported around the world, not only commercially but also via Cypriots travelling abroad or visitors returning home! Similarly, ‘lountza’ and ‘hiromeri’ are traditional cold cuts, which have their unrivalled place in sandwiches, starters… and suitcases – vacuum packed, of course. The original lountza – smoked fillet of pork – is covered with coriander seeds when pressed, and hiromeri – smoked ham – is also pressed with large stones before it is dried and smoked in the family chimney. The spicy, smoked sausages known as ‘loukanika’ are made of coarsely chopped meat and fat, and are a must at summer barbecues and picnics. While fruits from around the world are now available in every supermarket, every shopper knows that it’s hard to beat our local citrus fruits, grapes or melons in terms of taste. To really enjoy and appreciate naturally grown daily fresh produce, a trip to one of the farmers’ markets is a must. Go early to enjoy the appetizing display, and take your pick from the cream of the crop. Most of the items you see will be familiar, but some may be new to you – and this is the most exciting part. Feel free to ask about anything that is unknown to you, and you can trust the proud farmers to offer you a taste of the fruits of their labour. Besides the rainbow of fruit and vegetables, cheese, sausages, cured meats, pulses and nuts of all kinds, the local market is also a delightful place to shop for dried fruits, popular sweets, honey, herbs and spices, or even traditional embroidery, lace and souvenirs. Wherever you are, a visit to the downtown market will be a wonderful experience that will bring you one step closer to the grassroots of our island. Our island’s cuisine could not remain immune to the different civilisations Cyprus has hosted over the past 3000 years. Various rulers, invaders, settlers and traders have come and gone, leaving their traces across the country and even influencing our taste preferences and culinary practices. A closer look at our traditional fare reveals an overlap of well-known flavours originating in Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Italy and even France. Of course, our climate and soil are to thank for the abundance of fresh local produce that dominates our shopping baskets and our kitchens, giving every meal that distinctive Mediterranean signature.