What I ate in Cyprus
One thing I love about cuisine is what it says about the people who make it and devour it. I recently visited Cyprus for a long weekend with my family and came back with a notebook full of recipes and dinner party ideas.
I remember browsing through the menu of a traditional-looking restaurant on the first night and immediately realised that the Cypriot cuisine borrows ingredients and flavours from signature Greek and Turkish dishes. This makes perfect sense when one takes into account the geographic position of Cyprus, enveloped between the Greek islands and Turkey.
A typical Cypriot dinner will start with meze, a sea of delicious appetizers, dips and salads – which will probably have you full before the mains start coming out. This usually includes, Tzatziki (a Greek yogurt dip made with garlic, cucumber and olive oil), Tahini (a paste of crushed sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon and garlic), Hummus (pureed chickpea and tahini dip) and Haloumi (grilled soft goat or sheep’s cheese), all served with warm pita bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
In between courses, Cypriots drink ouzo, a (very!) strong aniseed liquor which helps you digest the food quickly so you avail yourself for the next course. A stroke of genius, if you ask me.
On most days, there was no room for dessert, no matter how many shots of ouzo we had. But the coffee-drinkers among us claimed that Cypriot coffee is something to write home about, so they often finished meals with a cuppa. It’s made from Brazilian coffee beans and brewed using small, long handled copper pots called mbrikia. A non-coffee drinker myself, the roasted smell was just so intoxicating that I decided to have a small sip. It takes amazing, like strong cocoa beans – I thought this would really jazz up my signature tiramisu recipe.