CYPRUS FOOD & DRINKS
The traditional coffee shop, the ‘kafenio’ is the most important place of all villages in Cyprus. This is a place of communication where friends meet to play Tavli or to drink Greek coffee, tea or fresh juice. Greek coffee is ordered as ‘sketo’, ‘metrio’ or ‘glyko’ where ‘sketo’ is sugarless and coffee is stirred into boiling water to be stirred till frothing. ‘metrio’ consists of a spoon of sugar and ‘glyko’, two spoons of sugar.
A glass of cold water is always served with coffee in Cyprus. However, as each ‘kafenio’ in Cyprus has its special way of making coffee, it is better to be clearly indicate the amount of sugar you need while ordering coffee. On visiting, you may find it surprising when people turn their cups upside down on the saucer after drinking coffee. This is because they claim they can read the future through coffee drains!
It is important that you eat a ‘Mezedes’ when on a visit to Cyprus. It is one of Cyprus famous delicacies; and include up to 20 – 30 dishes! Of course, fish is a must when in Cyprus. You can find numerous fish dishes here that are grilled, fried, spicy, plain, salty or sour in Cyprus. Don’t be surprised if waiters tell you the catch of the day, and how it will be prepared, instead of producing a menu when in Cyprus restaurants. This is because, most restaurants don’t even have a menu!
A memorable drink of Cyprus is the Brandy Sour. This is a famous cocktail of Cyprus which is a union of two specialties in Cyprus; Cyprus brandy and lemon squash of Cyprus lemons. To this mixture, you have to add a few drops of angostura bitters, ice cubes and soda to enjoy a beautiful cocktail!
A favorite in all Cypriot families is the ‘Yemista’. This is a dish that is actually stuffed vegetables of all kinds. Summer is the best time to taste this specialty. You can order this stuffed vegetables as either starters or main dishes of a meal. ‘Yemistas’ can be served either hot or cold.
The most famous ‘Yemista’ is the ‘Koupepia’ which is stuffed wine-leaves. This is really tasty and a hit in most families. Other tasty ‘Yemistas’ are stuffed peppers, onions, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes. Fillings here are usually of rice and grated tomatoes; however, the cook may also add minced meat and spices like parsley or mint too.
Another famous dish of Cyprus is barbecues. A famous dish here is the ‘Souvla’, or in other words, skewer where pieces of lamb and chicken are grilled on charcoal grill. All Cypriots love ‘Souvlas’ and wait for a reason to be invited for it. ‘Shiftalies’ is another barbeque dish which are actually small sausages of minced meat. There is something special to this dish, which can only be found out when tried by one!
The ‘Kleftiko’ is a special dish for Cypriots where a piece of lamb or goat is wrapped in foil, to be baked in closed, airtight special ovens till baked. ‘Mousakas’ are found in all Cyprus menus which is a summer meal to be eaten warm or cold. It is prepared with potatoes, courgettes and aubergines to be covered with cream. There are some restaurants that sell the vegetarian version of it too.
Beer is tasty in Cyprus as this Mediterranean climate produces rice wheat that is brewed to light beer of great quality. There are two breweries in Cyprus; the Cypriot and Carlsberg brewery. Cyprus Brandy is another popular drink that is used pure or in long drinks. In fact, it is tradition to offer brandy to wedding guests too! The production of wine has been in existence since the past thousands of years since the times of the Crusades. The ‘Commandaria’ is considered to be the best desert wine since 12th century; and till date, Cyprus has been famous for its wine exports.