Hotels: Foody Cyprus

By: Mark Lauterwein


Before it became a territory for men to dispute, Cyprus was home to dwarf elephants and an equally diminutive version of the hippopotamus. This phenomenon is well known in nature where an absence of predators negates the advantage afforded by bulk. Elephants are not to be seen these days on the island (at least not by the sober) although there is still a unique kind of mouse here (Mus cypriacus).

Politically the situation on the island is complex and full of tensions following on from the Turkish invasion in 1974. A UN buffer zones separates the antagonists to this day. Otherwise, two British bases are to be found here: this is sovereign UK territory that was granted in exchange for full independence in 1960. However the famous Cypriot cuisine is a mixture of previous influences: Byzantine, Italian and Turkish (through the long association with the Ottoman Empire.)

Cyprus is noted for its soups. Meze is often served as a starter. Kenelonia are small omelettes served with a variety of toppings and then baked in stone ovens before serving. A range of Cypriot stews are to be recommended, they are called Tawas and they are cooked slowly to bring out the flavours of the excellent local ingredients. Most main courses are accompanied by fresh unleavened bread, known as pita. A popular dessert would see apples baked in sherry and flavoured in cinnamon. Hotels in Cyprus are often family owned and these hotels are the best bet when it comes to sampling the local fare.

For those venturing out of their hotels in the evening, Cypriot bars offer a range of fiery, potent liquors. Most people are familiar with Ouza. It has an aniseed flavour and cloudy appearance when served with ice. Zivania has a similar flavour and is equally brutal. Filfar is an orange liquor that locals often drink with coffee. Finally, Mosphilo is something hard to find outside Cyprus. It is distilled from the berries of the Hawthorn tree and is an acquired taste.

02/04/2008

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