Stories and Traditions
Zeus the mighty god, father of all gods and mankind was not the most faithful husband to his wife goddess Hera. On the contrary, he would indulge in the love of every deity and mortal that took his fancy. Mighty Hercules’ birth was the product of one of his escapades with the mortal princess Alcmene. As if Zeus adultery was not insult enough, trickster god Hermes placed infant Hercules at the breast of Hera to suckle while she was asleep. When Hera awoke, she tore Hercules away from her breast splattering her breast milk across the heavens, thus creating the Milky Way.
Our own Milky Way is on the ground and is studded with our traditional cheeses and dairy products, dazzling like stars.
The period from mid-January to the end of July and especially between March and June is the time of the year producing better quality and larger quantity of milk. Accordingly, it is more likely to find fresh dairy products produced in the villages during these months trachanas Trachanas – is a type of dry food made from finely ground wheat (also called konari in the Cypriot dialect), which is soaked in a mixture of boiled goat’s and sheep’s milk, which has been fermented (sour milk). The resulting thick pulp is then molded into cylindrical pieces (with a diameter of about one centimeter) and is “spread” on a flat surface in the sun to dry. The dried pieces are stored like pasta and are cooked with water to make the traditional trachana soup. To complete that taste small pieces of halloumi cheese are added into the soup. is made.
In keeping with tradition passed down by family lineage, many Cypriot women continue to make small quantities of halloumi Halloumi – the flag of authentic Cypriot cuisine. It is made mainly from sheep’s or goat’s milk, or from a mixture with cow’s milk. The production of halloumi did not start in recent times but began in the Byzantine Period. You can enjoy it fresh with traditional bread or with watermelon, fried, grilled or in a boureki (filled pastry), in halloumi pie or as ravioli filling; and more recently as ice cream… do not hesitate to cool down with a halloumi flavoured ice cream, as strange as it might sound! (it is a name registered as Protected Designation of Origin) and anariAnari – This white unsalted cheese is usually eaten fresh, with honey or carob syrup, or used in making traditional sweets such as bourekia or anaropitta. cheeses at home, for their families or acquaintances. They also produce kefalotiri and a special type of cheese that is the basic ingredient for the Easter pies flaounesFlaouna – the most traditional Easter specialty of Cyprus. It is really a unique experience to taste this Cypriot delicacy, and if you happen to be on the island before Easter Sunday – when flaounes are made – we urge you to visit a village, a traditional bakery or a neighborhood to see how women make this unique baked delicacy. It is made using a sheet of pastry filled with a mixture of pafitiko cheese, currants and mint; flavoured with mehlepi or mahlebi (mahlebi is a fragrant spice made from the seeds of Prunus mahleb, a type of cherry tree). . Some regions of the island produce local cheeses like halitzi Halitzia- a dairy product, very few people have tasted, basically, we dare to say very few people know about it even on the island. We present to you Tylliria Halitzia. It is a unique soft white cheese made from fresh sheep’s or goat’s milk, with holes in it and a tart flavor. The word halitzia comes from the word haliki which means pebble or stone. It is probably named so because they shaped like a pebble. Halitzia are made in the Tylliria area, on the north western part of the island as well as in the Tsakkistra community, at Pafos’ forest., produced exclusively in Tylliria area of Lefkosia. Another famed traditional cheese akathiotiko Akathiotiko – Akanthou cheese was produced in the now occupied village of Akanthou from raw milk of goats that grazed a variety of aromatic plants in the area. The shepherds used to place in the milk strainer branches of rock-rose, the leaves of which had a sticky juice with a subtle odor. is unfortunately no longer produced. Cypriot yoghurt Yoghurt – Cypriot traditional yoghurt is made nearly all over the island using sheep’s or goat’s milk, or a mixture of both. is also a well-loved traditional dairy, especially Sheep Yoghurt which is creamy and slightly sour tasting.
Noteworthy is the dairy drink Airani Airani- A traditional cold refreshing beverage of yoghurt mixed with salt, mint and water; sold during the Ottoman period by street vendors on hot summer months. as well, enjoyed cold in a traditional village coffee shop (Kafenes). Along our milky way, don’t forget to drop in bakeries that we locals cherish for their delicious cheese pastries. Cyprus ravioli (rafkioles Rafkioles – It is a Cypriot pasta specialty comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. A mixture of both mature and fresh halloumi cheese is combined with mint and placed on the pasta dough. Rafkioles are then cooked in chicken stock) is a dish, remnant of the Venetian rule on our island.
But Instead of the typical Italian ravioli fillings, Cypriot women devised an alternative filling made of local Halloumi cheese and dried mint. Call in a donkey farm to experience a donkey ride and then try donkey products such as milk, donkey milk cookies, chocolates and so many other. Donkey milk besides being used in cosmetics is considered very beneficial and thought to improve the immune system and reduce blood pressure.
Along the Heartland of Legends route, you are bound to run into flocks of sheep and goats peacefully and nonchalantly “crossing” the road under the guidance of an expert shepherd. Wait patiently in your car and enjoy this characteristic bucolic scene. If you are interested in visiting a farm or a small farmstead to see the animals and the farm activities, the best time to do so is between October and January.
The myth of Pygmalion and Galatea (gr White as Milk) arises in Cyprus. The goddess of Love Aphrodite was the patron of the Cypriot city kingdom of Amathounta. In honor to the goddess the women of Amathounta before their marriage had to give up their virginity to the visiting pilgrims. The women refused to fulfill this sacred duty and Aphrodite cursed them to be possessed by a love frenzy and offer themselves to any man they met. Pygmalion of Amathounta was a masterful sculptor and his statues were so perfect they looked alive. Disgusted by the depraved behavior of the cursed women, Pygmalion chose to sculpt an innocent pure young girl out of white marble. So beautiful was the creation that Pygmalion fell in love with it and imploring the goddess Aphrodite to bring it to life, so she could become his wife. Aphrodite granted his prayers and one day, Pygmalion returned home to discover his statue had come to life. With skin as white as milk, Pygmalion named the young girl Galatea. Of their union a girl named Pafos, was born who in turn married a Phoenician prince. Their son Kinyras, returned to Cyprus where he founded the city of Pafos and became king.