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Image by Miranda Athanasiou 2010

My parents came back from Cyprus yesterday with two suitcases full of food. They seem to think you can’t buy limes and halloumi cheese in England.

It’s all part of being Cypriot you see. Sainsbury’s: culture at your doorstep, so you’d think… but no no, why buy olives when you can take a mere four hour flight to the Cypriot mountains and pick them fresh from your own trees.

Then of course comes the olive oil. With that many olives, you can’t not make olive oil.

And then once you make the olive oil you convince yourself if goes with everything. The other day my dad made me a chicken sandwich, only instead of butter he used olive oil. “Really, are we doing this now?”

He looked so proud “you can really taste the olives can’t you”. Well you would hope so George. Two days ago they were still hanging merrily on a tree.

And lets not forget the pitta bread now. Not one or two packets, but twenty. Twenty packets of pitta bread somehow stuffed into their hand luggage and flown over because this particular brand isn’t sold in the UK. And what’s better about this brand? The pitta’s are about three times the size of the ones sold over here, and heaven forbid we eat less, when we have the possibility of eating more.

I’ll give them this, when it comes to Mediterranean eccentricities, my family are top notch. Like having a son- kind of a big deal, to most men I’d assume, but to Cypriot men in particular.

While my dad has always claimed having two daughters is more than enough to deal with, the fact he calls my dog his “son” makes he feel he’s not being entirely honest with us.

My Brother. Image: Athanasiou 2010

So fair enough, he lavishes a little attention on the dog; he treats him like an addition to the family. He makes him eat salad with his barbequed chicken so he stays a ‘healthy boy’; it doesn’t bother me. And I’ll give it to him, Patchy is the better behaved of his three children.

Though I did feel using my £40 shampoo and conditioners to bath my four-legged brother was a step too far. What can I say; nothing is too good for a Cypriot man’s son.

Of course this is all just the tip of the very Greek iceberg.

We talk about seven times louder than other people. Not because we have a problem with our hearing but because we like to talk over each other. Why wait your turn to talk when you can just go right ahead and speak over the person who’s already talking? That’s just wasting valuable eating time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being Cypriot is kind of fun. It’s helped me master the art of competitive eating (when Sunday lunch consists of 30 people you eat fast or you don’t eat at all). Not to mention the money I’ve managed to con out of my uncles who are always up for a bet: “if I eat these 5 hot chilli’s you give me £40 each”.

Fine so I had my tongue on ice for the rest of that week, but baby I was rich.

Marriage is another biggie. I think my grandma is trying to set me up with a cousin; a second or third cousin, but a cousin all the same. Getting married, having Greek babies, learning to make little filo-pastry pies: all very important on a Cypriot girl’s agenda.

I hope it doesn’t break their hearts when I announce the idea of marriage before I’m 30 (pretty damn scary) and as for babies, we’ll I’ve never been a fan.

Perhaps I should break it to them over a nice spinach and olive pie. You know, to ease the blow.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding: another insight into Cypriot culture.

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