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Let’s get traditional with festivals

Just when you thought all the festivals had run their courses, you realise that they never rest and never ride into the sunset. Over the next few days, the island will celebrate a number of local products, while also giving us a taste of what they are all about.

Tomorrow in Peyia we can all enjoy a traditional Cypriot night during the sixth annual Festival of Carob from 7.30pm until midnight. The traditional band with front-man Michalis Hatzimichael will be presenting lots of tsatista – improvised Cypriot songs – as well as other traditional songs along with singer Vasiliki Hadjiadamou.

But, as the name of the festival suggests, it also has much to do with the carob and its use in the Cypriot kitchen. The carob tree is an indigenous species that has been cultivated on the island for four thousand years. Once a major export, carobs were prized for their versatility, high nutritional value and hard texture, which allowed them to be stored and transported across long distances.

Visitors will be able to see the preparation of carob products – including sweets, carob syrup and more. Halloumi will also be made on the spot, and just before the halloumi is ready you can also get a taste of anari – which goes great with some carob syrup, by the way. Traditional handmade products will be shaped by the hands of masters, while visitors will also get the chance to see how zivania is distilled.

Moving on to Saturday and Anogyra village in Limassol, where pasteli will be honoured in the 29th Pastelli Festival.

The village of Anogyra was once a main carob-grower and it is still very famous for its traditional sweet – pasteli – which is made from carob syrup and is produced traditionally in the village. The sweet is produced by boiling carob pulp until it forms a thick, sticky liquid similar to treacle.

The custom of making this sweet is annually celebrated in September, and this year is no exception. Like every year, the festival will showcase the sweet being made in its traditional way, along with other traditional foods. While you sample the sweet, you will also be able to enjoy a programme of traditional music.

During the festival, you can also visit the Pastelli museum, the olive-park Oleastro, the church of Timios Stavros and the winery.

Sticking with the theme of traditional food, we turn to the 42nd Sotira Kolokasi festival, also on Saturday.

If you are not familiar with the root vegetable – which is called Taro in English – it is only grown on our island and the Greek island of Ikaria. It is used in a traditional dish with tomato sauce, celery and pork, lamb or chicken. Baby kolokasi are cooked in red wine with coriander seeds.

It is believed that the vegetable was brought to the island by the Romans, and it is grown mainly in the Famagusta area – thus making Sotira the perfect place to celebrate the local product.

During the festival, you can taste the vegetable, prepared with traditional recipes, and you can also try its more modern cooked versions. Famous chefs will be there to show us how they have incorporated the vegetable into their kitchens – not to mention that the vegetable has also become a spoon sweet.
The musical side of the festival will be provided by Greek singer Melina Aslanidou.

Sixth Annual Festival of Carob
Festival with Cypriot songs and dancers, and lots to do with traditional food. September 8. Saint George, Peyia, Paphos. 7.30pm-12am. Free. Tel: 99-527770

29th Pasteli Festival 2017
A festival with Cypriot music and presentations of pasteli making. September 9. Anogyra Village, Limassol. 7pm-11pm. €13/8. Tel: 99-184417

42nd Sotira Kolokasi Festival
Festival dedicated to kolokasi, with singer Melina Aslanidou. September 9. Sotira Municipal Stadium, Famagusta. 8pm. Tel: 23-821568

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