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Cyprus Eating & Drinking

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Eating & Drinking in Cyprus

Many people view Cyprus simply as a convenient location for budget travellers looking for some of the cheapest flights and hotel packages available during the summer months. However, food and drink connoisseurs also flock to the island in their droves, and for good reason.

Due to its geographical location, as well as its history, Cyprus has assimilated many different influences to construct a unique identity. With Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern imprints all contributing to the rich tapestry of life on the island, it is no surprise that Cypriot food has also been guided by these cultures.

Being an island nation, it is also no great shock to discover that fish dishes form the staple of Cypriot cuisine, but there is more to the palette here than merely seafood. Dessert and savoury dishes are extremely popular and can be used to highlight the different cultural influences which exist in Cyprus. Below we take a look at some classic Cypriot dishes to highlight the vast range of different flavours and cultures which can be sampled on the island:

Lokmades – This foodstuff, above all others, demonstrates the cosmopolitan nature of Cyprus, as these fried dough balls are a popular snack in Greece, Turkey, and across the Middle East. The dough is soaked in sugar syrup or a honey/cinnamon mixture, which results in a savoury yet sweet snack. Sesame is sometimes sprinkled on the balls, which taste delicious but can get sickly after a while!

Loukoumia – The etymology may be similar to that of Lokmades (both come from the word 'lokum', meaning ‘mouthful’ in Arabic) but loukomia is not dissimilar to Turkish Delight. British travellers will already be familiar with this gelatine based dessert, which is covered in powdered sugar to add to its sweetness. Rosewater is the most popular flavouring in Cyprus and the love of loukoumia acutely highlights the Turkish influence on the island.

Daktyla – This type of leavened bread demonstrates the Hellenic influence on Cyprus as it is particularly popular in Greece. It is typically yellow in colour and decorated with sesame or nigella seeds. Daktyla means ‘fingers’ in Greek and the name derives from the baking process of the bread, which results in long thin slices being formed.

Molehiya – This is a type of mallow leaf which can be bought dried or occasionally fresh in Cyprus. It is of Arabic origin and is commonly used with lamb and chicken to provide a distinctive flavour.

As you can see, the culinary range of dishes reflects the different cultural influences on the island, as well as its unique and dynamic history. However, don’t think Cyprus has assimilated all these cultures without giving anything back. Halloumi cheese, renowned the world over and particularly popular in Greece and the Middle East, was a Cypriot invention. Initially made during the Medieval Byzantine period, it has grown in popularity ever since and is one of the things you must try on a visit to Cyprus.

 

 
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