Location: Island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey
Area: Little over 9250 sq km; 171st largest in the world (Note: these rankings go up to 251 because they include autonomous regions like Bermuda)
About 60% the size of Connecticut
Highest point: Mount Olympus
Geography: Third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea
Ethnic Groups: 77% Greek, 18% Turkish, 5% Other
Population: Over 1.1 million; 160th largest in the world
Government: Greek Cypriots control the only internationally recognized government; There is a Turkish Cypriot president and a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" that is only recognized by Turkey
Source: CIA Factbook
As another note, Cyprus is considered to be in Asia, not Europe. I had always assumed it the other way, probably because of the heavy Greek influence.
Reading about the history and government of Cyprus was like "A Tale of Two Islands." It is interesting how such a relatively small island can cause so much pain and strife. In fact, in the 1960's, violence broke out between the two sides that required UN peacekeeping troops to come in and try to keep it in check. In the 1970's, the Greek government sponsored an attempt to seize control of the whole island. This was met with intervention from Turkey. That would be one, two, three countries involved. Talks of reunification between the leaders of the two communities did not begin until 2008. (CIA Factbook)
Luckily, this turmoil did not come out in my search for a recipe. There seemed to be little question on the types of food I should be making.
Souvla is definitively from Cyprus. Similar to "souvlaki" from Greece, it is grilled, seasoned pork. However, it is distinctively its own dish. Many of the recipes required equipment I didn't have (like a spit), but I finally found one that was workable. And, to top it off, I found a recipe for a cheese pastry called Flaounes. I was planning on cooking Cyprus the week before Easter, and these are supposed to be an Easter treat, so I thought it was fitting.
The ingredients for the souvla were easy to find, except getting Greek oregano specifically. Most spice packages didn't differentiate. None of them ever said "Greek" or "rigani," so I went with the closest I could find.
|Oregano, red wine, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil.|
The work to create this dough wasn't very difficult either. Very similar to pizza dough. I decided to halve the recipe, but I know that doing it with yeast doesn't always work out cleanly. Therefore, I still made all of the dough but only used half of it. Maybe I can use the other half for some garlic bread or something.
|Set down on the oven to rise.|
|Not having to do dishes = wonderful.|
When I went to try a cheese pastry I couldn't eat more than a bite because I was already overloaded on salt. I sent one with Kevin for lunch and he said it was good. I thought they were decent, but I although think they would have been better fresh from the oven. And with the right kind of cheese. I'm not sure I can truly make a judgement call because of all of the substitutions. They were really pretty though, if I do say so myself.
I think the general idea would be fun to use, though. Could you make pizza pockets like this? Could you fill it with a bit of cream cheese and make them cinnamon flavored? Other than the waiting, they weren't really that difficult.
Go! Make the souvla! Or, I suppose, if you're lucky, just go visit Cyprus.
Next time: Czech Republic