What I love about Cyprus…..

What I love about Cyprus are the smells: the earth has its own aroma and there are so many fragrant bushes and trees and flowers. The sun intensifies the essential oils and makes these more potent, then after it rains again the scent is heady in the air. Close to where I am there are many pine trees and these smell beautifully fresh and delicate.

Then there are the smells of cooking….cinnamon, souvlakia cooking, bread and all manner of familiar spices and herbs mixed with vegetables and meat wafts in the air.

I love the sheep and the goats and the flavourful cheese: halloumi , anari, that is made with their milk. I love the views from the heights on the Akamas looking down over the rough terrain down to the blue sea that disappears into the horizon, the individual landscape that is Cyprus. There is a wildness here that will never be tamed and this I love.

I get very disappointed when I see so much commercialism near the coast to entice the tourist usually with cheap tat, tavernas, hotels and villas thrown up overnight in the hope they will be filled by visitors, offering them what they think they want. There is so much more Cyprus has to offer it just needs a little effort to find it.

I love the old buildings often in a half state of collapse or in some cases beautifully restored and even some newly built houses would make me see the advantages of these.

I love driving round the bends in the roads never knowing what I will find around the corner, what new vista lies before me and  the radio playing my favourite Greek music with the breeze cooling my face.

I love the fresh fruit, nectarines,watermelon, grapes, figs whatever you want you can find it growing here fresh and delicious with some sheep yoghurt in the morning.

The best time for me is late September  or early May when the temperature is warm but not so stifelingly hot as to render you a melted heap.

Last but not least I love the donkeys, how I miss seeing you doing your daily work up the hills.

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Sensual scent of jasmine

Jasmine Flower 2

Image by KLMircea via Flickr

The scent of the jasmine in my back garden this year is intense. I have never smelt it so strongly and I put it down to the wonderful spell of heat and sun we had in the spring which has just intensified the volatile oils.

One of my most pleasant memories of my first visit to Cyprus was the scent of the jasmine blossom on the evening breeze whilst walking back to my uncle’s house. In Cyprus because of the lack of moisture in the environment the concentration of volatile oils in plants is much higher than normal, up to 33%, which makes them a good source for making the essential oils.

 

 

 

My cousin Androula picks her roses regularly when they are in flower. She picks off the petals and scatters them on a tsestos to allow them to dry so she can use them either in a tea or sprinkled in the bath for a sensual, luxurious experience. This year for the first time she made her own rosewater for which you need a awful lot of rose petals and for this they are used whilst fresh. I am lucky enough to have a bottle and will use it sparingly to flavour my cooking.