Stories and Traditions
“Kallikantzari” (also called Skalapountari) are the Cypriot equivalent to goblins. Mischievous, funny looking, thin, hunchbacked creatures, sometimes wearing a long pointy hat or even having big bat-like wings, Cypriots were terrified of Kallikantzari. Kallikantzari hide in the depths of the earth all year long and rarely come above the ground. However come Christmas day they surface and their crazy reign begins for 12 long days and nights. Their favorite pastime is to play pranks, tease and cause trouble to humans and create mayhem with the sole purpose of having fun! They playfully tease people by tugging at their clothes, scare them with their screeching voices or frighten domestic animals. One thing Kallikantzari love more than teasing is a piece of “loukaniko” traditional sausage. Traditionally the preparation of “loukanika” and other smoked meats takes place around Christmas and Kallikantzari will not go away unless they get their share of these delicacies.
They will lurk on the rooftops to get a few hearty pieces. If the lady of the house doesn’t throw some pieces on the roof, they are ready to create havoc. In case they insist staying after having the sausages, it means they are waiting for desert, and everybody knows what they like best; “loukoumades” Loukoumades or xerotiana – desert; deep-fried dough balls dipped in syrup. The wet dough has the consistency of Porridge and is made of water, flour, potato or yeast. (also called “xerotiana”) are round deep-fried dough balls, dipped in syrup.
If you love smoked meats and sausages, then let the “Kallikantzari” guide you on a route that will trigger you senses and take you on a journey through time and legend. Feel the tantalizing flavour of wine and the aromas of the shrubs that are used to smoke the meat. Enjoy a zivania Zivania – Strong local distilled beverage shot (or more) accompanied by small pieces of Choiromeri, the most “luxurious” of the local cold cuts, and feel like a medieval lord relaxing after a long hunting day.
Hambis has dedicated his entire artistic life to engraving, creating woodcuts, lithographs, oxygraphs but above all linoleums and silkscreens. Almost all of his works testify to his deep love for Cyprus. In many of his works, he depicts landscapes, traditional elements of architecture and art, from antiquity, and scenes from customs. A large part of his work consists of illustrations of Cypriot fairy tales. Rows or single text-image compositions, as in the old woodcut books, his illustrations are always engraved.
Hambis founded the School of Engraving in 1995 in the village of Platanisteia in memory of the engraver A. Tassos, who taught him engraving and influenced greatly his artistic career. Driven by his strong need to offer to society he organizes countless workshops and shares unselfishly his knowledge and love for engraving with everyone, young and old, beginners or not.
In 2008, he founded the Hambis Printmaking Museum in Platanisteia and in 2019 the Municipal Hambis Printmaking Museum in Nicosia. A unique project – the first and only – Printmaking museum in Cyprus, thus realizing his lifelong vision: to make encourage people to learn to engrave and appreciate engravings by artists, both Cypriot and foreign, both passed and contemporary.
Kalikangiaroi - A Heartland of Legends story
The area of Pitsilia is well known for its smoked cold cuts choiromeri Choiromeri – a kind of ham made of pork leg, posirti Posirti – smoked pork belly , lountza Lountza – Cured pork tenderloin and sausage. The preparation process is what differentiates them from other smoked meats. For the preparation of the sausages, meat is marinated in local dry red wine and smoking is done using native tree twigs and shrubs, which gives the meat a distinctive smoky flavour, which pairs perfectly with the other local aromatic spices and herbs used.
Pitsilia’s cold cuts are registered as Protected Designation of Origin high quality products. They are produced according to predefined specifications in communities located in the demarcated region of Pitsilia.
The cold cuts represented a significant part of the diet of the rural families of Pitsilia where the temperature is just right for preserving food. The process of preparation took place during the Christmas season and the quantities produced were sufficient to cover a whole year’s needs. This dietary habit of the locals continued up until the early 20th century.
Cold cuts, which were usually served with local hard haloumi cheese, tomato and bread, belonged to the staple dry food supplies, when working or hunting in the fields. The traditional sweets siousioukos Siousiouko – dry desert; strings of almonds or walnuts are dipped in grape juice, which was mixed with flour and boiled and palouzesPalouze – creamy desert; grape juice is mixed with flour and boiled forming a cream that is sprinkled with crushed almonds and walnuts. were also important foods that the lady of the family placed in the hand-woven lunch bag of her hard-working husband.
Choiromeri is a smoked cold cut made of pork leg. The pork leg is generously strewn with salt and left to rest for 5-7 days. After that it is marinated in red dry wine for 2-3 days. Finally, the meat is smoked and when ready it is sprinkled with coriander seeds. Lountza and Posirti are prepared using the same traditional method and ingredients; however, Lountza is made of pork tenderloin and Posirti from pork belly.
The truth about cats and dogs - Sometimes an unfortunate incident might turn a strong friendship into an eternal feud and that is exactly what happened to the dog and the cat in the village a long time ago. The dog and the cat, two good friends walking together, smelled sausages on the roof of a house. The deal was that, the cat, being more agile, climbed up to the roof to drop the sausages in the backyard, while the dog stood guard. The cat did exactly that, but the dog crazed by their smell, ate everything without waiting for the cat to climb down. Ever since, the once two good friends became mortal enemies and are always at each other’s throat.