Cypriot Life – A Letter From Cyprus

David is a farmingfriends friend who lives in Cyprus and has been corresponding with me since the end of last year. I am always eager to read David’s letters as they are always full of such detail that you feel like you are actually there in the Troodoes mountains with David and his friends.  Here is David’s sixth letter to me which I received last week:

Hi Sara and all at Farming Friends.
How nice to get an email from you with all the news.I was only recently thinking that I should get in touch with you with the latest news from Cyprus.
I have tried out your tomato recipe and it is a great success.The sugar and balsamic really bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes which are good in Cyprus at the moment. I find that it goes really well with Halloumi cheese lightly fried or grilled and tried it tonight with lightly fried squid onions and tomatoes with rice and sesame seeds some white wine and coriander with just a pinch of cinnamon – great! So many thanks. Sorry if I am getting a bit “Cheffie”.
I hope that you had a good time in Benidorm. I think it is one place that is so underated. Out of season it is quiet and the locals have time to chat and enjoy the company of visitors.There are many good bars and restaurants and although I am sure that they have built even more hotels since I was there the old town is still pleasant and the outlying countryside is beautiful.
Here the weather is on the turn now as we come into october. The days are still warm but the nights here in Tsada are getting a bit cooler and this tuesday morning it is a bit chilly to say the least.Yes I know it is at least 27 degrees but that is now cool to us! Tsada is about 600-700 metres above sea level so it tends to be cooler that Pafos which is fine in the summer heat but means that we do get rain low cloud and even snow in the winter. It must be getting cooler because Aurora my ginger cat is now luxuriating on the duvet over the bed and Borris tends to stay in at night as well.Even Clarrie my little feral cat has moved into the outside shed.
We had a series of thunderstorms the last week and torrential rainfall fell in Polis where I was shopping and in the Troodos where many streams are full of water again. It is to be hoped that water shortages will not affect us this winter or next summer. The dams are quite full at the moment so all may be well.
I am delighted to say that I managed to get to the wine festival in Limassol this year. My brother has owned a flat in the town for some 25 years. He is now in New Zealand so the flat is empty most of the year which means I can stay there as often as I wish. Anyway the wine festival was a very cheap evening out and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Cyprus in early september. It was 5 euro to get in but you can drink as much wine as you want and get a free bottle to take home as well. There are fashion shows dancing and bouzouki music and a great many stalls selling cypriot food and snacks.
The wine harvest is going strong at the moment and the movement of grapes up and down the Tsada hill on the main road tends to slow all the traffic to a snails pace. This year I have not seen police warning signs about slippery grape juice on the roads so perhaps they are using better lorries than in the past. Georgios my neighbour goes off early in the morning to pick his grapes which are the Xinisteri type and good for both eating and wine making. He seems to disappear into his shed in the late morning and I suspect he is distilling the latest batch of Zivania the Cyprus-wide hooch.This can be a fiery liquid but we tend to put fresh ginger into the bottle which makes quite a pleasant liqueur.The cypriots tell me that Zivania is good to drink good for mosquito bites sprains and bruises and can be used to clean windows! It is drunk ice cold with meze and does have a pleasant if somewhat acquired taste.
I have been digging on the mountain and although I have found plenty of damp earth and rock the water sump has still not appeared. It is there somewhere and as it gets cooler I will be able to dig more and eventually find it. I am trying to avoid the expense of a JCB digger unless it is really necessary.
The vines are growing quite well but I have lost a few and some do look dead although the latest rainfall has revived quite a number of them. The fruit trees are now doing much better. I thought that moufflon were eating the leaves but I suspect it is due more to strong winds so the trees are now protected by a wind break and are looking much stronger.
I have recently planted a small crop of potatoes to see how they do.There never seem to be new potatoes in Cyprus as they all tend to go to markets abroad so hopefully I shall be able to offer some round the village. The plants are already showing good growth and will be ready before christmas. There seem to be two seasons for potatoes and some other crops in Cyprus and many farmers are sowing now for early spring vegetables. I have made an experimental raised seed bed and will be planting broad beans and winter lettuce soon.
I am not sure what has happened to the figs but many seem to have disappeared and it is possible that someone from the village has picked them. I thought that they may have been blown off the tree but I cannot see any rotting fruit on the ground.. It is not really a problem as there are plenty of fig trees growing wild and fruits are readily available. Likewise my almond tree in Tsada is fruiting well and it is time to pick the nuts. Hawthorn berries are still somewhet unripe but it will soon be time to pick them and made some “ladhapi” a local jam. The olive trees are nearly ready. It is time to pick olives to make “elies tsakistes”. These are olives washed slightly crushed and stored in brine and lemon juice for several weeks. They are then eaten with some olive oil coriander and crushed garlic It will be a few more weeks before the olives can be picked for pressing into olive oil but I have been offered the olives on two trees by a neighbour in the village and Marina the gardener has also said that she will bring up some of her olives to make a good quantity so I shall have some cheap olive oil this year.
Construction of the shed or shelter is also going well and I hope to get in a window this week and the roof on. Once that is done I will have a shelter on the site and a store for tools.
I have organised a village tour to Kyrenia in North Cyprus next Sunday. Most people are english but Aristos and his son are coming and George our driver is also cypriot so I hope it will be a great day out. I will let you all know next time!!
Best regards to you all

It’s great to share recipes and learn about the seasonal changes that occur and the annual festivals that take place. I can definately feel a holiday to Cyprus will be on the agenda soon, may be in time for the Limassol wine festival next August/September!

If you would like to read David’s other leters then click on the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5