Friday, September 19, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I recently signed up for a local food pledge (see previous post) but I had also sigend up to go the summer school at the Cyprus College of Art. So i am doing the local thing here in Cyprus, and its been tootally fantastic.
Two highlights have been the best breakfast ever in Fikardou, staying with freinds, and a supberb lunch in the weaving village of Fiti, not too far from Paphos.
Sophocles is a breakfast guru and I was presented with a leaisurley mountain breakfast of fresh anari, local honey, eggs from the builder who keeps hens, fresh local sheeps yoghurt, sweet plump dark plums, Paphos mangoes, grapes from my hosts vine, figs, and what else I cant remember so will have to look at my photos to check.
I first found Fiti last week when I am dmy travelling companions, both Irish weavers, went exploring and stumbled into it on the way to a monastery. It turned out to be a weaving village, and I hgad one the best lunches Ive ever experienced in the local restaurant. We asked what they had and the woman said ' Oh, lovely things' and it turned out to be mnore than accurate. I became an instatn fan of courgette with egg, and the irish girls said it was better then the food they had at a Michelin star restaurant in Dublin once.
Anyway that wasnt the highlight! After lnch we were shown around the local folk museum by curator Charalambous Mavrovollis (?) and we were enchanted and delighted by the weaving, the hand made looms, the they home spun wool and everything else beautifuil in this charming place. I came back a few days later on my own to buy a blanket they were selling, made of local sheeps wool and locally grown cooton, many years since. Apparently noone can spin wool any more so they now weave with imported threads. Anyway after I bought the beuatiful blanket I was invited to lunch and not wanting to miss out on an interesting experience I joined the curator and his wife the weaver for a fantastic meal on the hillside. They had grown their own marros and tomatoes, the egg was from their own hens - and best of all, not only does madame make her own loaves in a traditional oven, using sourdough, but they grow their own wheat and take it to a local mill for grinding. It was trulyu a nwonderful experience that I won ever forget.
The food here is easy to get hold of although one does have to hunt around a bit now for really good quality local produce like cheese and meat. The veg remain impeccable even a t the supermarket.
As an aside, you may know that i am quite involved in anti=plastic bag campaigns, and when I went to said local supermarket (largely cartering to an aged British expat populationm steadily taking over the hillas aroun dPaphos) I said I didnt need a plastic bag please, to weigh the fruit., I was startled to find that this caused an uproar and i found myself surrounded by hostile aging Brits glaring at me for daring to cause a meaningless fuiss, an incomprehending sri lankan fruit weighing girl who said ' If you really dont want the bags, you can take them to the checkout and throw them in the bin outside the supermarket as you leave', and a Cypriot woman who tol dmne that it was the custom in Cyprus to use plastic bags because unlike in England, where we just buy one piece of fruit, one lemon, the Cypriots buy many pieces of fruit (the implication being that we are a sad, lonely, unloved people, in contrast to the healthy family life of Cyprus) and so they need bagts to carry them in.
I had to relent, mainly because I was getting upset and didnt know how to show that I really didnt want one and there was not law insisting that I had to have one, so I took a couple and havent been back to buy veg since. I am going to make the bags into Art.
Apart from strongly flavoured and juicy, sweet fruits, (The most extraodrainarliy sweet pomegranates are growing on a tree down the road from the college) there are almnonds on a tree by the house, wonderful halloumis and olives, there is so much abundant and cheap and available local food that I have had to forego little, and perhaps only the cornflakes are what I would have eaten otherwise although they make me think of cardboard now hat I have been on this super fresh diet for a few days.
However all is not well in paradise. The drought this year has been so bad that many wheat crops have failed, and my weaving couple told me theior wheat didnt grow well this year. Many locasl have mentioned it but apparently some of the city folk think that the farmers are wasting all their water, and all food should be imported, and their have even been suggestions that they should cut down all the trees on the island to conserve water!
So perhaps there is great local food, but in the light of the fact that Cyprus is now importing water in tanks from Greece, I have not been drinking local water. ( Mind you there were some lovely srpings in the mountains)