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Keftedes (meat balls) is a very popular Cypriot dish made of eggs, bread, grated and strained potatoes, parsley, finely minced beef or pork and other spices.
Kebab is also very popular served by all restaurants, made either by pork or lamb. The small pieces of meat are skewered and roasted over a charcoal fire and usually eaten in a pitta bread.
Kleftiko is very popular particularly in countryside restaurants and is made of lamb, cooked very slowly in sealed earthenware pots in the village ovens, which are beehive constructions, made with baked mud.
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Choirino me kolokassi (Pork with taro), a speciality of certain seasons, is prepared by boneless stewing pork, thickly sliced celery, freshly ground black pepper, lemon and of course kolokassi (taro).
Soupa avgolemono. It is worthwhile trying this Cypriot soup, known as soupa avgolemono (egg and lemon soup) prepared with rice, chicken stock, eggs and lemon which by continuous stirring helps to heat up the egg mixture gradually and avoid curdling.
Special Cypriot desserts are recommended particularly for those with a sweet tooth. Baklava is a pastry made of cinamon and nuts, kateifi is a shredded nut pastry, galatoboureko is a custard pie, dactyla are ladies fingers, a pastry with nut filling and syrup, Bourekia me anari is a fried cheese pastry, while soutzoukos is a local speciality made of strings of almonds dipped into grape juice and allowed to dry.
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Pork dishes & mezzes
Since ancient times pork meat constituted a vital item in the Cypriot’s diet. Up to the first decades of the century pigs were reared in nearly every rural household, to be slaughtered at Christmas time. Present-day pork is still highly regarded, cooked and processed in different forms:
(a) Souvlakia, small pieces of pork grilled on skewers over charcoal. It is regarded as the “national dish” of Cyprus.
(b) Sheftalia, a mixture of fresh minced pork, finely-chopped onion and parsley, grilled on the charcoal.
(c) Afelia, small pieces of pork, dipped in red wine with coriander.
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(d) Roast pork
(e) Pork chops
(f) Choiromeri, a leg of pork, dipped in red wine for at least five weeks, pressed and smoked. It is usually served as mezze.
(g) Lounza, pork fillet, dipped in red wine, with coriander seed on top, pressed and smoked. It is fried or grilled in tiny slices.
(h) Loukanika. This is the Cypriot sausage, made of good quality meat often flavoured with the fruit of the lentisk bush. It is smoked or dried in the sun. This is the traditional rural sausage, not the factory sausage.
(i) Salami, is factory-made and is served as a mezze.
(j)Zalatina, recommended as a winter mezze, is a kind of jellied brawn, made from parts of the pig.
Cheeses in Cyprus are made from sheeps’, goats’ or cows’ milk, or from a mixture. Their history is lost in time with some villages and monasteries noted for cheeses of exceptional quality. Herebelow are enumerated some well-known Cypriot cheeses: (a) Halloumi. It is more or less the national cheese of Cyprus, the village-made dry and flaky, from either goats’ or sheeps’ milk or even from a mixture. The factory-made halloumi can be of cows’ milk. It can be eaten freshly-made, it can be preserved in special pots for later use and it can be fried with eggs or it can be grilled.
(b) Anari. It is soft, creamless cheese, available salted or unsalted, served either on its own or used in the making or pastries. It is also used as dried and grated for macaroni dishes. In some villages it is offered extremely fresh together with honey or sugar. (c) Fetta. It has a salty taste and crumbly texture and is normally served in salads. (d) Kefalotyri. It is a rather hard cheese, of excellent flavour with some holes. It is a rather expensive cheese. (e) Village Easter Cheese. This is a local cheese, moulded in small baskets, yellowish in colour, prepared in Easter time for use in flaounes, a special Easter cake.