THE WEEK dedicated to promoting the Cyprus breakfast has become an annual fixture for hotels, even after the demise of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. The concept now has the blessing of the under-ministry for tourism and some 150 hotels participate, but it does not seem to have made a big impact on breakfast habits, foreign or local.
This could be because nobody really knows what the Cyprus breakfast actually is. Is it a halloumi and tomato sandwich, black olives and stale bread, the revived pitta tis sadjis, honey on anari, pastries with carob syrup or hard-boiled eggs? There is no clear definition for a Cyprus breakfast.
Under-secretary for tourism Savvas Perdios, extolling the initiative said the Cyprus breakfast had something different to offer from the English and American breakfast served in many hotels, but he opted for vagueness when describing it. “The Cypriot breakfast has a joy, a love, a pride in it, which stems from our traditional recipes and our respect for the history of our country and our grandmothers,” he said.
Despite the vagueness of the concept, some 150 restaurants and hotels were participating in the programme, Perdios said, and advised more establishments to embrace it; he also urged people ask for a traditional Cyprus breakfast. The reality is that if there was such a thing as a traditional Cyprus breakfast there would be demand for it and, more importantly, there would be cafes and restaurants offering it every day and not for one week each year.
Most cafes in Cyprus are international franchises that offer flapjacks, brownies, croissants, Danish pastries etc. Eateries in tourist resorts offer eggs, bacon and sausages, while all the big hotels do breakfast buffet which is aimed at catering for all guests’ tastes. There is nothing Cypriot about the hotel breakfast buffets that foreign guests have come to expect. Even if some food items considered part of the Cypriot tradition are part of breakfast buffet, we doubt it would win over many guests.
There is no doubt that Cyprus has good local produce and variety of unique foodstuffs that have never been properly marketed. Many of these are part of what we now call a healthy diet, but it is highly questionable whether they could be marketed to foreign visitors as the Cypriot breakfast, because as a concept this is vague and too general. It would probably be a better idea to market each unique food item separately as happened with halloumi, which has become an internationally-known cheese.
Soudjioukos, anari-based sweets, chiromeri are some other food items that could also be promoted to foreign visitors and subsequently abroad but on their own rather than as the Cyprus breakfast, which not even Cypriots can actually define.