With emphasis on fresh local ingredients, a pungent mix of herbs and spices and a light spattering of olive oil, Cypriot food is essentially Mediterranean, similar to that of Greece and with a hint of the Middle East and Asia Minor.
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Get to the heart of Cypriot culture by exploring its delicious cuisine, an exotic blend of Greek and Middle Eastern dishes.
Start your culinary adventure by ordering 'mezedes' at a restaurant where you will be faced with a lavish feast of all the local delicacies but make sure you pace yourself for the 20 or more dishes that will arrive.
Be sure to try Cyprus' famous 'halloumi' cheese made from sheep and goat's milk. You can have it in all kinds of different ways, from grilled to fried or on its own, and in the summer you must try it with watermelon, for an unusual combination of flavours.
Do as the locals do by dipping a slice of village bread into a bowl of cracked green olives with coriander seeds and don't try to say no to a wickedly sweet 'glyko', preserved fruit accompanied by a glass of cold water.
For centuries, Cypriots have accompanied their drinks with meze – a large selection of delicacies consisting of many dishes with small helpings of delicious foods. Meze are a traditional feature of religious feast days, birthdays, weddings and name days. Feasting usually means endless eating, singing and joking, accompanied by wine and zivania, a strong spirit similar to vodka.
Served all over Cyprus, mezedes cover a broad range of some the best of local cuisine and can include up to 30 dishes. The feast begins with black and green olives, tahini, skordalia (potato and garlic dip), taramosalata(fish roe dip), and tsatziki, all served with a basket of fresh bread and a bowl of village salad. Some of the more unusual meze dishes that may be served include octopus in red wine, snails in tomato sauce, brains with pickled capers, kappari (capers) and moungra (pickled cauliflower). Bunches of greens, some raw, some dressed with lemon juice and salt, are a basic feature of the meze table. The meal continues with fish, grilled halloumi cheese, lountza (smoked pork fillet), keftedes (minced meatballs), sheftalia (pork rissoles)and loukanika (sausages).
It is then the turn of kebabs, lamb chops and chicken. The last dish to be served is fruit or the traditional preserved fruit glyko. Glyko is found in every home and is the first thing to be offered to a guest together with a glass of water.
Cypriot women continue to make glyko in the traditional way handed down from generation to generation and serve it with great pride.