The food of Cyprus reflects the rich and turbulent history of the island and its Greek culture which cannot be taken out of the ground as its roots are firm and deep within the soil. You will find tastes influenced by the Middle East, the Venetians and Asia Minor, all using fresh local ingredients, spices and herbs and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet, with its pulses and grains, fresh vegetables and sun-ripened fruit, high-protein fish, poultry and lean meat; wine is a healthy option as well as a tempting enticement. ‘Kopiaste’ is a word that you are almost sure to hear in Cyprus, it means ‘join us’ and is always meant genuinely.
One great way to experience a wide range of the foods that Cypriots enjoy is to stopover at a typical local tavern and ask for mezedes. You will get dish after dish of diverse tastes, both vegetable and meat but be warned; pace yourself due to the fact that the food is so good you could end up too full to go on by the time you get half way through! Cyprus is also rich in fish inns and here you can experience yet another gastronomic pleasure surrounded by Cypriot folks.
Wash it all down with one of the local beers or wines. Cyprus has a long tradition in winemaking that goes back over 4,500 years. In ancient times wine was a key source of wealth for the island. The island provided the Pharaohs of Egypt and Cyprus wines were in great demand amid the ancient Romans and Greeks. One very old sweet wine, Commandaria, is recognised to be one of the oldest named wines in the world, which according to legend, was originally made for the Crusaders and Richard the Lionheart. Zivania, Cyprus’ famous firewater, made from highly-purified grape juice, is almost pure alcohol and packs a neat kick to it.
For a vigorously healthy drink try a freshly squeezed fruit juice from the overabundance of fresh fruit available on the island. ‘Airani’ made with live yogurt is unbelievably refreshing, perfect for hot summer days, while ‘soumada’ is a warm heartening almond drink served with hot water. Sounds more like you are at a resort than anything but definitely drinks obtainable for any occasion or weather condition.