A Glimpse of the Past

Sugar cane worker in the rich field, vicinity ...

Sugar cane worker in the rich field, vicinity of Guanica, Puerto Rico (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

As I mentioned in my previous post Let’s talk Food I will be doing a talk/cookery demonstration  in February, my thoughts have now moved on apace and I’ve started to write down my main points of discussion. To give the participants a snippet of insight into what has influenced Cypriot food and culture to become what it is today we need to view the constant traffic of visitors over time and the fact that Cyprus has been constantly occupied by invaders throughout history up until very recently when in 1960 they gained independence.

Cyprus was  rich in natural resources, the richest was copper. The word for copper in Greek is Kupros and either the island was named  this because of the copper or the name of the island came to mean copper because of the abundance of the stuff in ancient times. In the Roman period Cyprus was the main source of copper  in the world. This is a little snippet I’ve learnt in my research for information to embellish my talk. Another fascinating snippette is that sugar was being produced on Cyprus from the 10th century.Quite remarkable really. The Arabs introduced sugar production techniques and set up sugar mills and refineries across the Levant. Sugar was an amazingly valuable resource worth more than its weight in gold. Sugar production ‘though was very labour intensive and needed a lot of irrigation and when the Venetians arrived in the mid 1400’s they decided to switch production to cotton which was just as lucrative and much less costly to produce.

From these exploits you can see that on Cyprus it was possible to cultivate most things due to its temperate climate and fertile soil.You would think with all these rich resources Cyprus would be a wealthy country but sadly the indigenous people did not enjoy any of the profits as they were no more than serfs or slaves paying heavy taxes and dues to the rulers.

When my aunt Eugenia came up to Treis Elies to share her recipes with us she made us many forms of pasta. These have been part of the traditional diet for centuries and I puzzled at this. When delving into the origins of pasta however there is no clear way of knowing where exactly it started. There is evidence now that it could have originated in ancient Greece. So either they could have brought it to Cyprus or much later the Venetians. Wherever the tradition originated  pasta in its various forms was eaten frequently:- macaronia, ravioles, trin, phides, tomachia, koulourouthkia all are made from pasta.

Well more next time now I’m on the research trail.


up_around_copper_harbor_07_m1_screen (Photo credit: pntphoto)