In Cyprus, fine food and hospitality go hand in hand. The friendly people of this beautiful island hold close their visitors and delight in offering them the very best of whatever they have.
This is particularly true when it comes to food and drink due to many reasons!
History has played an important role in the development of Cyprus Cuisine. Over the centuries this small but strategically placed eastern Mediterranean island has been dominated by many powerful nations. The Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Lusignans, Venetians, Ottomans and the British have all ruled over Cyprus and contributed in their various ways to its colorful traditions.
Each of these nations brought with them their own culinary preferences, merging these with the abundance of fresh produce that already existed on the island, to ultimately create what must be amongst the world’s greatest “fusion” cuisine.
Here you can find the exotic tastes of the Middle East – pomegranate, sesame, mint, cumin, juicy sultanas, okra, aubergines, pine nuts and dried apricots, side by side with Italian pastas, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, smoke-cured hams, olives and artichokes.
From Europe, there are rich casseroles of pork or beef, cooked in wine and flavored with coriander and onions, Cyprus’ own special versions of Jugged Hare, roast pheasant and fat quails cooked with locally-made brandy and sun-ripened oranges.
In this multi-cultural region it’s hard to define the origins of many of today’s specialties. For example, the delicious stuffed vine leaves and other stuffed vegetables so popular with modern-day visitors to Cyprus are generally considered to be traditional dishes. However, it is far more likely that these were introduced into Cyprus by the Ottoman Turks way back in the late 1500s when they conquered Cyprus from the Venetians. But then, whether or not these dishes were original Ottoman recipes also comes into the debate. That’s where “fusion” becomes
“confusion”, as it’s quite possible they were adopted by the Ottomans from one of the many other countries that made up their far-flung Empire at that time. Whatever their origins they, like many other dishes, have been adapted and improved over the centuries and are now firmly established items on the Cypriot menu.
Until recent years, Cyprus was a mainly rural community, where families grew much of their own food, which probably accounts for the fact that today the people are very discerning when it comes to what they eat. For them, nothing but the freshest produce is good enough. It also explains why organically produced goods are given priority.
It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet is a healthy one. Fresh olive oil takes precedence over imported vegetable oils and everything has that homegrown taste – the salads, vegetables and fruit stimulating the taste buds and reminding us of how things used to be.
Dining out in Cyprus is a culinary experience not to be taken lightly.
Gastronomy at its best can be enjoyed at the island’s top restaurants and hotels were modern, highly trained, chefs take the very best of the island’s cuisine and craft it into exquisite dishes that subtly reflect the traditional tastes of Cyprus.
Cyprus is one of the oldest wine producers in the world with a cultivation of grapevines dating back to 3000 B.C. Its best known wine is Commandaria , a direct descendant of the island’s original wine, “Nama”. Commandaria is a sweet wine, which takes its name from the Grande Commanderie of the knights of the order of St. John, which, in 1210, was based at Kolossi, near Lemesos.
Unchanged and unchallenged, rich in aroma and subtle in taste, Commandaria still holds pride of place amongst the more modern dessert wines of the world.
There are many other world-class Cyprus wines.
The island produces over 400, many of which are ecological, and many of which originate from small independent wineries, many of which are family run, and will often receive a guided tour and a chance to discuss the merits of its produce over a glass or two.
Depending on your tastes, there are excellent Chardonnays and Muscats, outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and a refreshing number of surprisingly good Shiraz, Merlot and Maratheftiko wines, just waiting to be discovered.
During the last 10 years another part that helped a lot to improve the standards of the good quality of food and same time to appointment the worthiness of Cyprus cuisine, is all the efforts that Cyprus Chefs Association gave. This has been succeeding through many activities like: Gastronomia competitions, several seminars every semester, the colaporation with the wacs, educational trips and others.