Things You Should Definitely Taste
Both poets and travellers past have praised the flavours of the island. Food for Cypriots is a feast. Like many in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a country which cares passionately about food. No wonder that hospitality and cordiality are deeply embedded in the Cypriot psychology, so much that pleasing has become a fine art. Cypriot cuisine is shaped by the island’s Mediterranean climate, geography and history. Influences are evident from neighbouring countries, with strong similarities with the Greek cuisine with a hint of the Middle East and Asia Minor.
Key components of the Cypriot food include heart-healthy olive oil, fresh local fruits and vegetables, legumes, fresh fish and whole grains with moderate amounts of wine and red meat. The flavors are rich with local herbs and spices, and the health benefits for people choosing a Mediterranean diet are hard to ignore - they are less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or become obese.
You should definitely not leave Cyprus without tasting:
MEZE (PLURAL MEZEDES)
The definite introduction to Cypriot food. Consists of a selection of more than 20 different dishes meat or fish based, including a selection of cold and hot appetisers and main dishes. Meze is a unique eating experience but be prepared to eat a lot! You will surely adore the Cyprus hallumi, village salad with Cypriot green olives, Cyprus village makaroni, souvlakia seftalia!
SOUVLAKIA & SHEFTALIA
An extremely popular dish for Cypriots. Souvlakia are small pieces of pork, skewed and cooked on charcoal and served in pitta bread with tomatoes, cucumber parsley and onion. These can be accompanied with 'sheftalia', a kind of 'kefte' made with minced meat, onion, pepper and parsley.
Spicy smoked sausages, usually pork, seasoned with wine, coriander, whole black pepper and other spices.
PASTITCHIO ‘MAKARONIA TOU FOURNOU’
This dish is a one of a lot of people’s favourite. It is cooked in the oven and the ingredients include minced meat, pasta, béchamel sauce and grated cheese.
Tahini sauce is a paste of ground sesame seeds mixed with fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt, and thinned with water. In Cyprus, tahini is mainly used as a dip with pitta bread and souvlakia. Try also as a dip in village salad.
AFELIA WITH POURGOURI
Pork meat cubes casserole seasoned with dried coriander and red wine. This dish is served with yogurt and pourgouri, a pilaf made of broken wheat, often prepared with stock, onions, crumbled vermicelli, tomato and spices.
RAVIOLI WITH HALLOUMI CHEESE
Pastry filled with halloumi cheese, mint and eggs cooked in chicken broth and served with grated halloumi or dry anari cheese.
KOUPEPIA - STUFFED VINE LEAVES
Baby vine leaves stuffed with rice, mince meat, onions and herbs.
Fried meatballs made with minced pork, herbs, egg, breadcrumbs and sometimes grated potato.
A slow roasted lamb on the bone (often shoulder), stewed in wine with coriander and other herbs.
The most famous cheese product of Cyprus. Produced either from goat's or sheep's milk or through a combination of both, Cypriots love to eat it with water melon in the hot summer months. Halloumi is also fantastic grilled or fried. Try as a side dish, in sandwiches and in salads.
Another delicious fresh cheese product of Cyprus. It is made traditionally by adding milk to the whey left after making halloumi. Consumed fresh, unsalted anari, is served with honey and walnuts or almonds nuts or with some sugar and ground cinnamon, thus constituting a delicious desert.
Traditional smoked pork leg matured in wine served in restaurants as an hors d' oeuvre or with melon, as an entree.
Smoked fillet of pork served raw or grilled to accompany your drinks or to be enjoyed in sandwiches. Great with grilled halloumi in a pitta bread.
LOUKOUMI - GEROSKIPOU DELIGHT
Small, soft, chewy, sugar-powder covered cubical sweet available in many flavours including rose, mint, mastic and lemon, with or without nuts.
Grape based gastronomic delicacy. The rubbery 'shoushouko' is seen hanging from roadside stalls and is made from grape juice and walnut or almond nuts.
Grape juice pudding sprinkled with walnut or almond nuts.
Maize flower pudding served chilled with rosewater and sugar.
LOUKOUMADES AND SHAMISHI
The amazing Cyprus dessert, loukoumades are small round fried dough, sweetened in syrup and shamishi is fried folded dough stuffed with semolina and sprinkled with icing sugar.
GLYKO TOU KOUTALIOU
‘Glyko’ literally means ‘sweet’. It is preserved fruits in syrup served with a spoon ‘koutali’. It can be made from almost any fruit, vegetables and even flower petals. Of the most popular are watermelon, cherry and walnut.
Delicious fried stuffed pies filled with anari cheese dipped in syrup and sprinkled with acing sugar.
Herbs gathered from the mountains of Cyprus include sage, spearmint and chamomile. People of Cyprus have been using herbs for thousands of years and thus, the ancient knowledge of herbs and their medicinal and aromatic properties is still very much alive.
Similar to Italian Grappa or French Eau De Vie, Zivania is produced with highly distilled grape juice with a very high content of alcohol. Served cold.
The Limassol region vineyards are the source of the sweet dessert wine that had originally been produced by the Grand Commandarie of the knights on the order of St John of Jerusaleum during the 14th century.
Frappe is a foam covered iced coffee drink. It is very popular in Greece and Cyprus, especially during the summer, consumed at a leisurely pace. It is made of instant coffee shaken to a frothy texture with or without milk and sugar to your taste.
The special coffee pot used in the process is called briki. If you like it sweet, ask for a ‘glyko’ (2 teaspoons), for coffee that is less sweet ask for a ‘metrio’ (1 teaspoon of sugar) and for a bitter taste without sugar ask for a ‘sketo’.