Never tasted Cyprus food before?

Discover what Cyprus food is really like and read my recommendations on the best things to eat either in a taverna or cooked with the freshest ingredients in your holiday villa or apartment.

I just LOVE Cypriot food and drink. And do you know why?

Well, it's because everything tastes so amazingly fresh over here. Plus everything is GIANT-sized in Cyprus...BIG tomatoes, BIG potatoes, even BIGGER celery, (it's usually about a metre...yes a METRE long including all the leaves) and positively ENORMOUS bunches of herbs, spinach, grapes and so much more. Check out some of my cyprus recipes to see what I mean.

By the way, the word for BIG is "megalo" in Greek...most people seem to learn that one quite quickly...

Yes this IS spinach with a couple of BIG tomatoes!

And this is spinach if you don't believe me!

Greens or "Khorta", as they are known here, form a BIG part of the Cypriot diet as they are mixed with meat in stews and many dishes are vegetarian using dried beans and seasonal green vegetables.

Whilst most of the big supermarkets are like big supermarkets the world over with sanitised rows of identically shaped fruit and vegetables, all conforming to a set standard, the friendly local fruit and veg market, or "agora", has crates of fresh, differently shaped produce straight out of the fields that morning:

  • giant celery

  • bunches of rosy radishes

  • enormous lettuce and

  • sweet bunches of fresh herbs - parsley & coriander are the most common.

We just love the local co-operative farmers that produce so much tasty fruit and veg!

So what if you have to shop several times a week for your fresh veg, but the small shops open early and stay open late so it's not a problem. Then again you can always try growing your own:)

Well you've bought a selection of fruit and veg for next to nothing (unlike big supermarkets the world over, fresh produce does NOT cost a lot here provided you buy the LOCAL produce!)

Things to Eat in Cyprus

  • Cyprus' location at the far end of the Mediterranean has a cuisine influenced by many countries, many of whom colonised the island at one time or another in the island's often turbulent past.
  • The proximity of Cyprus to the Middle East is shown in its heavy use of spices like coriander seeds and cumin together with fresh herbs of parsley and coriander, one of which will accompany almost every meal in one way or another.
  • These herbs add a zest to village salads made with tomato, lettuce, olives, onion and cucumber or they liven up a plate of grilled meats.
  • Add lots of olive oil, some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a grilled meat platter (which will include "sheftalia" - a herb filled mince meat sausge - and "souvlakia" - small pieces of grilled pork) along with a few plates of appetisers like "tahini" (dip made from sesame seeds) or "tzatziki" (dip made from yoghurt, garlic, herbs and lemon juice) and you have the basics of a meat meze.

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Cypriot meze

Meze means "delicacy" and is famous all over Cyprus - a great way to try lots of different dishes before you commit to ordering something as a main course.

But be warned, some mezes are positively ENORMOUS so go easy on the dips which tend to fill you up before you get anywhere near the grilled meats.

Afelia - pork cooked in red wine and spices

Especially if you have sampled afelia, stifado or another kind of stew before you get there.

If you are not a meat lover, don't worry, there are many vegetarian dishes in a good meze like aubergine dip or fasoles (dried bean stew).

Coastal towns and villages will always have fish on the menu and calamari is always a favourite, lightly battered and quickly deep fried...with a squeeze of lemon it is simply delicious.

Calamari


It is a little ironic that in the peak summer months, many of the fish restaurants in smaller towns run out of fresh lemon as it isn't the "season" for it. You may, however, be served what most people think are limes with their fish meal - these are actually green lemons picked early!

In the mountain villages, of course, you will not get fresh fish but you will be enticed to pull over when you catch the mouthwatering aroma of "Souvla" smouldering away on a B-B-Q ( (Souvla are BIG pieces of pork as opposed to "souvlaki" which means little pieces - adding "aki" to the end of a word makes it a small version of...)

Even vegetarians will probably drool over the smell!

Cyprus Food and Drink

SIMPLICITY is basically the key to all great Cyprus food, the best of which will cost only a few pounds and be washed down with a glass of local wine (okay, so not all of it is very good unless you know what to order - see my secret Cyprus wine guide for more details).

Finally you can relax with a Cypriot coffee, which is almost always on the house and be astonished that you have spent 3-4 hours over your Cyprus food main meal.

Cypriot coffee can be a bit of an acquired taste which is why you will be asked if you really mean Cypriot coffee rather than a "Nes"(cafe).

  • Tip no 1: Order a "Metrio" for slightly sweet coffee, "Glyko" if you like a lot of sugar or a "Sketto" if you like your coffee "neat".
  • Tip no 2: Don't drink ALL the coffee -the bottom is filled with a thick sludge which will taste very bitter! If you forget, grab the glass of water that always accompanies your coffee and drink it quickly!

Argaka

If you have visited Cyprus and not experienced the wonders of real Cyprus food, then you have probably been trapped in the main tourist resorts where the "fast" food there bears no resemblance to the real thing.

By the way, we do get chips in our little corner of Cyprus but this type of Cyprus food is known locally as Argaka potatoes (where the best spuds are grown - see the picture!)

Development and elements of more commercial tourism are starting to encroach on even our lovely little corner of the island, but we still have acres of vegetable fields and swathes of orange groves. Come and see our special, unspoilt, western corner of the island and sample the REAL Cyprus food there before it loses its current rustic charm.

Looking for the best tavernas on the western side of the island?

Or perhaps you want to know how to make afelia or other Cypriot dishes?

Or maybe you need a good Cyprus cookery book? - Here's my favourite with lots of historical information on how recipes were handed down over the years - it was written in 1968 and is still in print!

Kali Orexi!

Related Pages:

Best Cyprus Restaurants

Cypriot Recipes

Cyprus Beer

About Cypriot Wine Grape Varieties

Best Wines in Cyprus

Cyprus Olive Oil

Making Olive Oil - Joy of Olive Picking

How to Preserve Lemons

How to Pickle Capers, picked from the roadside

Where to buy unusual Indian spices in Cyprus

Eco Friendly Water Bottles

How to Cure Olives

How to Use a Pressure cooker for fabulous Cypriot stews

Gluten Free Food in Cyprus

Build a BBQ in for outdoor cooking in Cyprus

How to Keep Chickens






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