Cookbook:Cuisine of Cyprus
Cypriot cuisine is shaped by the island's Mediterranean climate, its geography and history. Reflecting the two dominant populations, Cypriot cuisine has evolved as a fusion of Greek and Turkish cuisine with local twists to well known dishes. Further influences are evident from neighbouring countries, namely Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine. There are remnants too of French, Italian and Anglo-Saxon influences stemming from the island's occupation by the Luisignan Franks, the Venetians and the British. Modern western cuisine (especially fast food) has an ever increasing influence on the day-to-day diet followed on the island.
Meat based dishes include souvlaki, souvla, sheftalia and pork sausages.
Frequently used ingredients are vegetables such as zucchinis, green peppers, okra, green beans, artichokes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and grape leaves, and pulses such as beans (for fasoulia), broad beans, peas, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and lentils.
Pears, apples, grapes, oranges, mandarines, nectarines, mespila, black berries, cherry, strawberries, figs, watermelon, melon, avocado, citrus, lemon, pistachio, almond, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut are some of the commonest of the fruits and nuts. Some of the most well-known spices and herbs are pepper, parsley, roka, celery, mint, thyme, oregano and others.
Rice is prepared as the chard pilaf, locally called seskoulorizo, which contains chard leaves, chopped onions, long grain rice, peeled and chopped tomatoes, freshly ground pepper, olive oil and parsley. The meal is usually served with plain yoghurt and crusty bread. There is a variety of sweet snacks, which are found in most of the café bars around Cyprus, like the honey and syrup doughnuts. Honey is also used for the pastellaki, which is a snack prepared with sesame, peanut and honey syrup. There can be found many Oriental kebabs, with various kinds of beef or chicken meat, wrapped in a special bread and with various dressings.
Ayran is a traditional yoghurt-based drink also found in several countries of the region. In bygone days it was sold on streets by individual producers but it is now found on chilled supermarket shelves.
Wine has a long tradition on the island, evidence of which goes back for millennia. Commandaria is a popular desert wine, and zivania is a potent spirit. Cyprus Brandy is also drunk with meze dishes. Local beers such as KEO and Leon are popular served chilled in the summer months especially as an adjunct to the Cypriot version of souvlaki.