Cyprus food exhibits many different cultural influences. In the southern Greek region, Greek food dominates the dining scene, while Turkish cuisine is on offer at many of the North Cyprus restaurants. Cyprus food also has Middle Eastern influences, and since the country is an especially popular holiday destination for Brits, British cuisine is easy to come by as well. The influences don't end there, and you can expect to enjoy a wide range of world cuisines at the country's more popular hotels and resorts. In addition to buffet restaurants, many Cyprus hotels and resorts also boast a la carte eateries that specialize in one or more cuisines.
Cyprus natives, or Cypriots as they are called, generally eat three meals a day, with dinner being the main meal. To start the day off, the average Cypriot might enjoy a plate of olives, cheese, bread, and coffee. Halloumi cheese is common at breakfast, and you can expect to see it at other times of the day as well. This is the top cheese in the land, and it is made out of sheep or goat's milk. Sometimes, both sheep and goat's milk are used. Halloumi cheese has a sort of rubbery texture, and while it is good raw, it is even better when grilled. Whether you grill it or not, this Cypriot cheese can be used any number of ways. Locals like to add it to soups, and it can also be good with eggs to start your day off. Feta cheese is popular as well, especially in Greek parts of the country.
When it comes to Cypriot cuisine, it's important to check out halloumi cheese. It's also important to consider what is known locally as meze. Meze essentially translates to small delicacies, and it is akin to trying an array of tapas in Spain. Multiple dishes follow one after the other during a meze feast, giving diners the chance to try a number of different things. Both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots embrace the meze style of eating,. A typical meze session might start with olives and bread and end with fruits and pastries. In between, will be various vegetable and meat dishes. It's customary to share the food with others, and the typical meze session is usually a lively affair.
Cyprus food is generally healthy, thanks to its largely Mediterranean roots. As is true in other Mediterranean countries, such as Spain and Italy, olive oil is used in abundance in Cyprus. The consumption of olives themselves is also a popular pursuit. The Mediterranean climate encourages a number of fruits and vegetables to grow well in Cyprus. Tomatoes and cucumbers are just some of the vegetables that you can easily find, and the fruits can include anything from strawberries and grapes to apricots and nectarines. Potatoes also figure among the favorite Cyprus food items. The potatoes in Cyprus are known for their quality, and Cypriots often bake them. Oregano, cumin, salt, and sliced onions are common additions to baked potato dishes.
Cypriot cuisine, as one might imagine, features plenty of seafood, and this seafood is fresh. Calamari is a common appetizer at the seaside restaurants in Cyprus, and you might follow it up with an octopus stew. Octopus is usually made into a stew in Cyprus, and common ingredients include onions, carrots, tomatoes, and red wine. As far as traditional Cypriot cuisine is considered, salt cod is often the fish of choice, and especially was in the past. Salt cod, as the name would imply, is cod that is salted for preservation purposes. Often times, it is also dried. Many Cypriots, at least those who still eat salt cod, employ outdoor ovens to bake it, adding potatoes and tomatoes to the mix.
As popular as seafood is, Cypriot cuisine also revolves largely around meat. Lamb is often the meat of choice, and it can be either roasted or barbecued. Some Cypriots have special sealed ovens at their homes, and they can be used to prepare a lamb dish known as ofto kleftiko. It's hard to imagine lamb any juicier than the lamb that comes out of these special ovens. Lamb is also used to make kebabs, which are the most popular all over the country. Beef, chicken, and even fish are sometimes used to make kebabs as well. For those who might not know, kebabs are made using meat that has been cooked on a spit or skewer. Thanks to its Turkish ties, North Cyprus is arguably the best place to get some savory kebabs, and the meat is usually wrapped in flat bread. More often than not, the bread is also stuffed with a salad.
While meat dishes are prevalent, vegetarians shouldn't feel left out. The local stuffed vegetables can be especially tasty, and no vegetarian or meat lover alike should leave the country without trying some louvia me lahana. This dish is a lunchtime favorite, and it consists of greens that are cooked with black-eyed peas. Lemon juice and olive oil are used to flavor the vegetable and black-eyed pea mixture.
As for washing everything down, Cyprus has been producing wine for centuries on end, with Commandaria being one of the most famous wines in the land. This sweet dessert wine is better enjoyed after your meal, perhaps with a sweet cake or pastry.
These are just some of the traditional foods and dishes that you can expect when it comes to dining in Cyprus. Trying local food here is sure to be enjoyable and the perfect way to experience local culture.