Feature – Multicultural delicacies
16.08.2012, 10:48 (CET)
Cypriot cuisine is undoubtedly be one of the main “attractions” of the Presidency. Over the years, the various conquerors and habitants of Cyprus have affected the local cuisine. Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and British all left their marks on the Cyprus cuisine.

In charge of highlighting the island’s rich tastes are the chefs Nikos Hadjichristoforou and Etore Bodrini. Despite assuming this responsibility, the Greek-Italian chef Etore Bodrini says that their role will merely be of a complementary nature, since he expects the tastes of Cyprus to stand out on their own.

Mr. Bodrini claims that all the traditional dishes of Cyprus are difficult. “Cyprus cuisine is very tasty and homemade”, says the Greek-Italian chef pinpointing the hospitable (filoxeno) element of the Cypriot specialties. “It combines the tastes of two continents: the brutal element of the Asian cuisine and the sophisticated element of the European, with some touches from the British”, the Greek-Italian chef commented.

Small island, lots of products             

During the Cyprus Presidency there will be more than 120 menus in total, while up to 100.000 meals will be offered. As Mr. Hadjichristoforou suggests, “our visitors will have the opportunity to taste all the traditional dishes of Cyprus in modern versions, whilst there will be a Cypriot ‘touch’ in all the menus”.

Naturally, the meals will comprise entirely from Cypriot ingredients, such as anari cheese, halloumi cheese and several other products which are still prominent in chef’s selections. Also, Cypriot wines will be an essential part of the meals. “We have located local producers of excellent wine, commandaria (a red sweet desert wine) and zivania (a strong alcoholic beverage from distilled white grape juice), so that our meals are accompanied by traditional Cypriot drinks”, adds the Cypriot chef.

“Our aim is to give the visitors a positive image of Cyprus and to underline the fact that despite its small size, the island has so many products”, says Mr. Bodrini.

There will be fifteen official dinners of heads of states and ministers, while it is the several dozen of unofficial dinners which will be the main focus of the kitchen staff. “Daily routine is tougher. The official meals will go down smoothly because there will be a limited number of guests”, they explain.

“Antiallergic” ingredients

All menus have been prepared so as to accommodate guests with particular nutritional intolerances. “We try to use ‘antiallergic’ ingredients. There are vegetarian menus, lactose free menus and gluten free menus. I don’t think we’ll face any difficulties to prepare these menus. Since Cyprus is an island, it boasts a big supply of good fish and excellent potatoes, from which these ingredients alone one can prepare a full course meal”, they add.

When asked about their work in hand to highlight the positives of the Cypriot and Mediterranean cuisine, the two chefs downplayed the magnitude of their efforts. “With the Cypriot cuisine, the chef does not have to go out of his way to make it stand out. He merely has to help the ingredients, acting as an observer rather than the star man of the show”, Bodrini points out.

With respect to the guests expected in Cyprus, the Greek-Italian chef believes that our European visitors will prove very demanding. “They are used to having good food and they will be a tough ‘audience’. I honestly believe that they will be delighted with Cyprus cuisine”, concludes Bodrini.

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