Cyprus cuisine boasts of wonderful exotic flavors that are just as diverse as its multicultural influences. From Armenians and Syrian ancestors to their Greek and Persian rulers, Cyprus was able retain a part of each culinary heritage; traces of the French, Lebanese, British, and Italian influences are not forgotten in the Cypriot cuisine. It is fascinating to experience their integration the influences into their own civilization. The climate of this country contributes to the excellent quality of their fruits and vegetables. The people of Cyprus know how to delight in these as well. Whether these are raw vegetables or a Moussaka, the food is always delectable and fresh.
vasilopita image source
Most families have learnt to produce most of their food and cooking necessities by themselves for Cyprus is a fertile land. While the main dishes or even serving styles remain consistent, Cypriot foods are also bound by seasonal availability and or religious traditions and festivals. If you visit Cyprus in September you may witness their wine tasting festival and savor the overflowing free wine. During the New Year celebrations you may get to taste the ‘Vasilopita’, the special cake for the occasion. Finding a coin in your slice of ‘Vasilopita’ is traditionally believed to give you luck for the whole year.
mezze image via Wikipedia
One of the most fascinating serving styles in Cyprus is the ‘mezze’. It is a combination of up to thirty kinds of dishes served in small saucers merits a worthy appetite. The locals are generally a very hospitable people. When you are served the ‘mezze’ it is only proper that you sample everything, which makes eating an art; you wouldn’t want to fill yourself up too early by eating too much of one dish.
kebabs image source
The Cypriots love meats; although they also practice religious fasts forbidding the consumption of meats. Therefore, those who fast eat vegetables practically half the year for different reasons for fasting. If you prefer vegetarian dishes, asking for it in most restaurants and taverns is quite normal. Some of the popular meat dishes in Cyprus are Tava (meat, herbs and onion stew), Dolmades (minced meat and rice stuffed in vine leaves), and Kebabs (spiced and skewered pieces of meat roasted over flaming charcoal).
Coffee is the local national drink. The coffee houses which they call kafenes, in Cyprus remain to be traditionally for men only. The farmers go to the kafenes before and after work to have a cup of coffee as they also catch up on the community gossip. Women and children are allowed only on special occasions such as when a puppet show or some other form of entertainment is scheduled there for the townsfolk. Otherwise, women would have to take their ‘metrio’, ‘sketo’, or ‘glyko’ (types of coffee with varying measures of sugar) at home.
kafenes image source