Cyprus Cuisine
Restaurants

When we visit a country for the first time, many of us are interested in its cuisine and gastronomic traditions, (not surprising really as terrible food can spoil the whole holiday). This will not be the case in Cyprus, and if you manage to venture away from your hotel and visit a traditional tavern tucked away in a little Cypriot village, the wonderful memories will remain with you for a long, long time.

 

KoupepiaHalloumiGreek salad

By its nature, the kitchen of Cyprus is a kaleidoscope. Some believe it’s solely based on Greek tradition, but this isn’t the case as Cyprus has had many invaders who brought their own characteristics and customs, and of course the island has always been popular with foreigners, which is reflected in the Cypriot cuisine.

Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Lebanese, Italians and French have all contributed. Added to that is the abundance of produce that the island provides, which altogether explains why Cyprus is a paradise for gourmets from all around the world.

It is believed by Cypriots that their cuisine is based on three pillars:

  • Souvlafresh vegetables;
  • meat;
  • a variety of spices (mint, parsley, dill, cumin, cinnamon and many others).

Some will be surprised to learn that even though Cyprus is full of excellent fish restaurants, seafood has only recently been popular, due mainly to the fact that in the old days most of the locals lived in mountain villages, far away from the sea in an effort to evade attacks from pirates and raiders.

A notable feature of the local cuisine is that they use a lot less fat in their cooking than most of their Mediterranean neighbours, which is consistent with the principles of a healthy diet until, of course, we get to the sweets, which are absolutely soaked in delicious honey!

Appetizers and salads in Cyprus

Amongst the traditional appetizers and salads dominating Greek cuisine are Taramasalata (a pink, creamy appetizer of fish eggs) and Tzatziki (chilled yoghurt with finely chopped cucumber, mint and garlic). Cypriots may simply spread these on fresh bread or use as a sauce, and sometimes Taramasalata is used as a replacement for ketchup.

Also, in any institution in Cyprus you will always find a rustic salad (choriatiki salad), which consists of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, feta cheese, spices and green olives.

Meat snacks are quite varied: lountza (pork tenderloin, which is soaked in red wine and sun dried), tsamarella (salted and dried goats meat, usually served thinly sliced), chiromeri (smoked leg of pork), loukanika (various kinds of pork sausage).

Meat dishes in Cyprus

MoussakaCypriots are very fond of their meat dishes, which they cook perfectly – staying vegetarian on the island is not easy. The most well known dish is Souvla (large pieces of pork, lamb or

chicken, on a skewer) or Souvlaki, which is the same only with smaller pieces of meat. Beef is rarely used in traditional dishes as the meat itself is not very popular among the Cypriots.

Cypriots will more often than not cook meat on the grill using an electric rotisserie, or in a clay oven.

Here are some of the dishes you may wish to try. As well as the Cypriot kebab, there is Moussaka, which is beef, potatoes and aubergine, baked with spices and a béchamel sauce. It’s served piping hot in the dish straight from the oven. Aphelion – pork with coriander in red wine and, of course, Kleftico, the King of Cypriot meat dishes – chunks of lamb cooked in clay ovens and served directly in the foil.

Fish dishes in Cyprus

Sea bassEven though Cyprus is surrounded on all sides by the Mediterranean Sea, the price of fish and seafood is quite high. Numerous fish taverns can provide you with the freshest fish and seafood, and even in the villages there are small fish farms that breed trout. The most popular, but also one of the world’s most expensive types of Cypriot fish, is sea bass (the cost of 1 kg is about €16-€17). You can also find sea bream and many other types of fish.

The most popular seafood are shrimp, small local crabs, mussels in garlic sauce (usually imported), cuttlefish and squid, but top of the list is octopus, which is prepared in a variety of ways in Cyprus – marinated for snacks and salads, cooked in wine, and grilled.

All these dishes can easily be found in fish restaurants on the coast, but the farmed trout is best tried in the village where it’s prepared, with lemon sauce and olive oil. Especially famous is the village of Kakopetria, which is the most popular place for Cypriots to go for a feast of trout.

Sweets and desserts

LoukoumadesIt is said that the sweets in Cyprus are very plentiful and diverse – there are jams, various halva, Delights with the addition of almonds, peanuts and other nuts and spices. Perhaps, no one Cypriot meal is complete without dessert, and many of the sweets are normally served in the village taverns. It’s always worth trying tahinopitta, which is made with sesame seeds, or soudzukos (from churchkhelas), made of grape molasses and almonds.

Another popular dessert is Anari cheese, similar to Italian ricotta, which is drizzled with honey or jam and sprinkled with nuts.

Conclusion

To finalise the story on Cypriot cuisine, we can say with confidence that you will never go hungry on this charming island, and that the unforgettable taste and variety of Cypriot dishes will tempt you to return and sample other new delights.

 

Sweets