A traditional Cypriot Meze
Greece and Turkey highly influence the exquisite gastronomy of Cyprus. Due to its geographical position and history, Cypriot cuisine takes many characteristics from both countries. Fish, wines, salads, and coffees are the most common foods and preparations at the table. Among the main dishes that can be offered, the meze stands out as a succulent aperitif served before the meal.
The meze is the first characteristic feature of Cypriot gastronomy. It consists of a great variety of preparations: Taramosalata (fish roe paté), especially Tarama (carp roe); hummus and tehina (chickpea cream flavoured with sesame paste). Other meze ingredients include unsweetened yoghurt, olives, feta cheese in olive oil, Greek salad, and many other delicacies. All of this is served with warm homemade bread or pita bread. The starters also include Spanakopitta (spinach, feta cheese, and egg pie), Pourgouri (similar to couscous, but with a more prominent grain), or Koupepia; vine leaves stuffed with rice and meat.
The meze is used for social occasions and is the perfect excuse to share, talk and make contact. These dishes are traditionally eaten with the fingers and, as we already said, accompanied by bread pieces. Arabs eat with the right hand only, using three or four fingers. It’s probably the most Cypriot food you can find. Another of its characteristics that we see is that it is tasted little by little while they are taking out the various dishes. Without a doubt, a whole gastronomic feast.
Cyprus’s cuisine stands out for the intensity of its aroma, its colour, and its flavour. It also has an important quality, which lies in the ability to prepare dishes for all palates.
Besides meze, seafood could be considered the greatest exponents of Cypriot dishes. Any fish grilled on wood-fired grills and accompanied by a lemon dressing is a delicacy. We also find an octopus in wine or the original crab cakes, among the many examples of dishes made from sea bugs. Various possibilities are offered to accompany these dishes. Olives, snails with tomato, a plate of rice with meat, or multiple sauces such as Tzatziki, made with cucumber and yoghurt, are just some of the options. However, in Cyprus, there is a garnish par excellence: orange. Any dish can surprise visitors with a side made with this fruit, whose presence is inevitable at all banquets.
At the time of desserts, it is worth highlighting the Bourekia (a fresh goat cheesecake, flavoured with cinnamon and orange blossom), the Galaktoboureko (a filo dough cake, filled with cream) or the Katäif (sweet almond and honey, with a cylindrical shape and syrup bath), as well as fresh fruit such as apple, orange, cherries, watermelon and many more.