Traditional Cyprus Food
Posted on January 31, 2013
SINCE ancient times Cyprus has attracted foral posi-agnet. Its geographiceigners like a m ealth and, fertile soil, forest wtion, rich mines excellent climate were a challenge. This land was conquered by many peoples, who left to the “Cypriots” their particular mark and their own customs and traditions. The Cypriots, however, cleverly exploited all useful elements. Among them, cooking, occupies a prominent position and with time it grew richer both in kind and in different ways.
Relative information is given below:
- All those things which constituted the basis of the nutrition of the poorer classes were known in Cyprus since the Middle Ages and were conserved and prepared in our country: broths, soups with flour and semolina, pulses, minced meat, pancakes made of flour, bee honey, grape-juice etc.
- In the 8th century B.C. the vendors of roast meat of Damascus offered their clients roast lamb or kid. The street vendors were crying out in the neighbourhoods their fish, the fresh buns, various kinds of sweets ets. Those methods and customs survived in Cyprus for many years.
- Towards the middle of the 8th century B.C. pottery developed considerably. The countries around Cyprus used enamelled vases, crystal vessels and valuable things like glassware of Tyre, Aleppo, Hebron and especially Damascus, which were mainly used by the prosperous urban society of those times. Similar vessels and of the same period are found in excavations in Cyprus.
- Vines, olive trees, fig trees and roses were cultivated since the third millennium B.C. It is believed that the Acheans brought them to Cyprus from the mountains of Syria. We learn from other sources that the apple tree, the pomegranate, the peach tree and the mulberry tree as well as cereals and vegetables were cultivated in Cyprus since 1,200 B.C.
- The system of distillation of alcohol which appeared at Salerno in Italy during historical times and the method of its preparation-with a pipe passing throug cold water-does not differ a bit from the system which is still used in Cypriot villages.
- Excavations in various parts of Cyprus have brought to light well-to-do kitchens and separate ovens for baking bread and meat. The handmills for grinding legumes and cereals, the big and small jars for keeping crops, pulses, olive, wine etc are still used in Cyprus.
- The vitamins-an invention of the 20th century-were used by Cypriots empirically confining them in honey, walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins and in many other crops.
- About 1,600 A.D. the potato was imported from the New World while from Africa and Asia were imported citrus fruits, spices, tea, cacao and coffee. Thus a new situation developed in Cyprus and the “Cypriot coffee house” made its appearance.
- Towards the end of the 18th century the art of cooking declined substantially as a result of industrial development. The models were nevertheless kept in the family kitchen and especially in villages.
Through the centuries the Cypriots fully exploited to their advantage everything foreign and slowly created and stabilised their own traditional Cypriot cooking, bringing it to enviable levels. To this successful evolutionary course of Cypriot cooking contributed not only the experiences gained or the skilfulness of the Cypriots but also the great variety of feeding stuffs produced on our island.
Actually in this sense the contribution of Cypriot cooking is great and this is recognised by the thousands of foreigners who come here every year.
In this respect we would like to mention the following:
mezedhes: Cypriot cooking can show about 60 dishes of mezedhes. To create this big variety of mezedhes among other things are used: wild greens, snails, mushrooms, game birds, sausages, dairy products and many kinds of vegetables.
soups: By processing wheat, maize and pulses, many wonderful Cypriot soups are prepared. Cypriot soups acquire a rare and particular taste with the addition of fish or bits of meat and poultry.
pastry: Cypriot cooking presents excellent “dishes” of pastry in the traditional way and a mixture of various types of cheese and milk.
minced meat: With the use of aromatic greens and vegetables which abound in our country, excellent kinds of food are made from minced meat.
game: Cypriot cooking gave the world some of the best “dishes” in this field as the foreigners admit. The procedure of marinating, cutting and cooking is truly a
In our book Traditional Cyprus Recipes we include apart from what we have indicated before and commented on, many remarkable recipes which cover a wide spectrum of Cypriot cooking in the field of food, drinks and confectionery.
However as it was pointed out at the beginning, Cypriot traditional cooking developed and formed and eventually in time was influenced by other factors and data. A comparison with neighbouring countries in the field of cooking and especially with Greece shows that Byzantium and generally the Greeks influenced on a grand scale the shaping and finalisation of Cypriot Traditional Cooking.
Thank you the Author
Written By: elena movileanu