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Cyprus Cuisine


Cyprus cuisine is closely related to that of Greece, but the island’s unique position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East has added exotic dimensions that make it particularly varied and delicious.

Emphasizing fresh local ingredients, regional herbs and spices, and the light use of natural olive oil, the Cypriot palate is quintessentially Mediterranean in character. Eating out to catch some local flavour is always the high spot of a holiday, but where do you start when faced with the Cypriot menu at your local taverna? In the course of your stay it is quite possible to try everything but why not order a Meze and taste all the dishes at one sitting!

Meze is short for Mezedes, or little delicacies, and wherever you travel round the Mediterranean they appear in some form or other. Share a meze in Cyprus and you have tasted the true flavours of the island, for you may be served anything up to 30 dishes. It is a complete meal, but, beware, don't be tempted to finish every dish that arrives on the table, or you may feel as though you've eaten for a week by the end! Just take a leaf out of a Cypriot's book and enjoy your meze “siga siga” or slowly, slowly. Among the items you can expect to be served are:
Loukanika, coriander-seasoned sausages, soaked in red wine and smoked
Koupepia, grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice
Lountza, smoked pork, often served in sandwiches with halloumi, a delicious soft cheese, (usually grilled) made from thyme-fed sheep and sometimes spiced with peppermint
Grilled pork sausage
Afelia, pork marinated in wine and coriander
Stiphado, beef or rabbit stew casseroled with wine vinegar, onions and spices

Ofto kleftiko, chunks of lamb cooked in a sealed clay oven and seasoned with bay leaves.
Seafood dishes include calamari, octopus in red wine, barbouni (red mullet), and sea bass.
Some common vegetable preparations are potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, zucchini, kolokasi (a sweet potato-like root vegetable) and asparagus.
There are also the Greek classics, like Taramosalata, fish roe blended into a creamy pink dip of pureed potatoes with parsley, lemon juice and finely chopped onion, Talatouri, cool mint and cucumber flavored yogurt with a dusting of garlic, a variation on the Greek tzatziki, Greek salad (horiatiki salata) with tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, feta cheese, green olives and local herbs,
Moussaka, the traditional Greek dish of minced meat and eggplant topped with creamy bechamel sauce and Souvlakia, kebabs of pork, lamb and chicken.

Cypriot desserts often consist of fresh fruit, served alone or with a selection of sweet pastries or fruit preserved in syrup. These include loukoumades, Cyprus doughnuts with honey syrup, daktyla, ladyfingers with almonds, walnuts and cinnamon, and shiamali, orange semolina cakes cut into squares. In cafes, popular snacks include kolokoti, a pastry triangle stuffed with red pumpkin, cracked wheat and raisins, and pastellaki, a sesame, peanut and honey syrup bar. There is also galatopoureko, a cream-stuffed phyllo pastry. A traditional sweet treat is loukoumia, cubes of gelatin flavored with rose water and dusted with powdered sugar.

Meals are accompanied by local wines, produced either in one of the big wineries or in the smal wineries of the hinterland. Cyprus wines, famous in antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages, are more than maintaining their tradition by becoming increasingly competitive in the International market. The quality of Cyprus wines ranks with the best in the world and the great variety provides a match for every kind of food and every palate.
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