Kâmil Toygar-Nimet Berkok Toygar
The island of Cyprus was conquered by the Ottomans 436 years ago, in the year 1571. The cuisine of Cyprus can be seen as extension of Anatolian cooking. In addition to the rich original culinary culture of Northern Cyprus, this cuisine has absorbed new ingredients brought to the island. This has given rise to new tastes, new dishes and drinks and new culinary values.
As culinary cultures are continually open to mutual influence, they adopt the cuisines of neighboring cultures, adapting them according to their own tastes and beliefs. The cuisine of Northern Cyprus owes its present richness to this harmonious synthesis.
The main characteristics of Northern Cypriot cuisine are:
a. The Cuisine of the Island Shows the Characteristics of Mediterranean Culinary Culture.
The foods and drinks of Cyprus are typical of Mediterranean culture. The climate, the sea and the island lifestyle dependent on those two elements, the island’s ecology, the historical relationships between peoples, food production systems, and the natural environment resulting from the interaction of the island’s vegetation and animal husbandry, all show strong association with Mediterranean culture at large. This is something we can observe in other countries around the Mediterranean coast.
In addition, the island has been in the middle of the many wars and migrations throughout the Mediterranean region throughout history. This has brought a multicultural character to Cypriot cuisine.
b. The Cuisine of Northern Cyprus is a Continuation of Anatolian Turkish Cuisine.
The migrations to Cyprus over a span of more than 400 years have created a new culinary culture on the island. The Turkish population which has settled on the island as the result of both forced and voluntary migration did not come from a single region of Anatolia. The various groups who came from various parts of the Ottoman Empire all contributed to its culinary culture and the variety the dishes known there.
An inventory of Northern Cypriot Turkish cuisine today will reveal a host of dishes from the north, south, east and west of Anatolia.