Cyprus is probably best known for its history, geography, and pristine beaches. But then there’s the Cypriot kitchen: a perfect blend of Mediterranean cuisine, halloumi, and wine. For food writer and stylist Georgina Hayden Greek Cypriot food is the ideal melting pot of delicious flavors: simple Mediterranean salads; classic ingredients like feta, a squeeze of lemon and fresh oregano; cinnamon-infused stews; orange-blossom scented pastries.
Hayden’s second cookbook, Taverna: Recipes from a Cypriot Kitchen, is an homage to the Cypriot kitchen she grew up in. Based in North London, she recalls spending much of her formative years in her grandparents’ Greek Cypriot taverna in Tufnell Park.
Of her second cookbook, Oliver said: “This spectacular book is filled with comforting, delicious recipes and wonderful writing. Authentic and heart-filled, this masterpiece of a cookbook gives an insight into one of the oldest and greatest cuisines on the planet.” Filled with delicious Cypriot recipes inspired by Hayden’s heritage, it was named Book of The Year 2019 in The Guardian, Evening Standard, Observer Food Magazine, and Delicious.
The recipes themselves were collected and refined over a long period of time. Inspired by her family, her heritage, and her love of travel, Hayden admits there is nothing she treasures more than cooking with her mum and her yiayia (grandmother).
“I started collating them around 13 years ago when I knew I wanted to write this book,” explained the cookbook author in an interview with National Geographic. “I spent as much time as I could with my yiayias, talking to them and watching and learning, and on annual trips to Cyprus I’d impose myself on relatives to cook with them. It’s been a slow process, but I’ve tried hard to capture the essence of traditional Greek Cypriot cooking.”
Of Greek Cypriot food in general, Hayden says: “It’s a mix of traditional Greek food with a heavy influence from Turkey and the Middle East. We love meze, so there will always be salads, dips and breads, and there’s always yoghurt—Cypriot yoghurt is more tangy than its Greek sister.” There’s also an emphasis on herbs and spices and a lot of tahini in both sweet and savory dishes.