Hello! I’m Marina, a Cypriot Grandmother with great love for my country’s foods and traditions.
I try to pass on some of that love and interest through Yummy Cyprus - either just by sharing my recipes and my stories here, or by welcoming you to my hometown of Ayia Thekla, Cyprus, for traditional Mediterranean cookery workshops.
What my workshops include
My workshops are more than just a simple cookery course. You’ll learn how to make Greek and Cypriot dishes, but at the same time I explain the traditions behind these meals – how they were originally prepared and eaten, which special occasions the recipes may have been linked to and what they represent. You’ll also hear about the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits.
What is important for me is to convey the richness of flavours and history within our traditional food and to help you get an insight into Greek and Cypriot culture.
For this very reason, we’ll share a glass of wine at the end of each workshop, perhaps some traditional music – and for small groups we can even enjoy together the food that we have just prepared.
Each workshop includes demonstrations on how to prepare at least one main meal as well as several side dishes and dips. I’m flexible with menus and can adapt my courses to any special recipe requests. Specialised workshops - such as halloumi or feta making - can also be arranged at an additional cost as I’d be inviting locals to join us and share their skills.
Location and prices
I hold group and private workshops on demand in Ayia Thekla (near Ayia Napa, Cyprus) but am always open to discuss other locations if there is sufficient interest and facilities are provided.
The cost is 300 euros per workshop, which includes up to six participants. If your group is larger than six people, additional people can join the workshop, at a cost of 50 euros per person.
Each workshop is 4 hours long and includes:
A cookery demonstration of one main meal and several starters.
A related talk on the food prepared and the Mediterranean diet.
A meal shared with the group where we enjoy the food we’ve just prepared.
Contact me and I’ll be happy to put together a Mediterranean cookery workshop that meets your particular needs!
The story behind Yummy Cyprus
Yummy Cyprus first opened its doors in 2012. It was a true Odyssey to get there, and the journey and adventures haven't stopped since.
I initially launched Yummy with my friend, Rena. When we told people what we were up to, they couldn't believe we had the energy and desire to start a new business - after all, we were grandmothers in our 60's, the period in your life when you normally wind things down, not up!
But the truth is, we both had the energy, the ideas, the enthusiasm and the desire to create something we felt had true potential in Cyprus, something that didn't exist to that day. We were born and brought up with a goldmine of our country's traditions, culture and food - all in our head, in our hearts, in our blood. These were traditions that are so quickly forgotten, ones that modern Cypriot society often has no time for, or no knowledge of.
Yummy Cyprus was created to be able to share this way of life, both with foreigners interested in our culture, and also with young Cypriots who haven't had the opportunity to learn these things from their own grandmothers.
In a way, it was not new for me. I'd spent a lifetime living and bringing up a family abroad, in Brighton in the UK. From the moment I started my new life there, I worked hard to bring our culture, food and language to the Greek community there. I taught Greek full-time in adult education. I founded a Greek school for the community's children (it was a Saturday school, so there were lots of grateful parents and lots of grumpy children!).
I organised Greek days for the Brighton festival, involving traditional dances, food and education. I was also often invited to speak on the local radio about our food and culture... and this at a time when the Mediterranean diet was unheard of outside the Mediterranean; I remember the only place we could find olive oil at the time was in the pharmacy, where it was sold for earache!
When I returned to live in Cyprus and once my four children had all left home to start their own lives, I knew that sooner or later I would pick up the old thread and continue my life's work in my home country. It was the early 2000s, and although the internet was still relatively new in my world, I was sure it would play a big role in my next adventure.
Like everyone my age, it took me a while to get to grips with computers, smartphones, tablets, and instant information. But I adored it. I am still far from an expert in technology, and my children often try to teach me new tricks and shortcuts. But even with my limited skills, I can spend hours online just reading, listening, and learning new things about countries, people, music, food, art - what a luxury to have this information at our fingertips!
And so I started to think about how I could use the internet to combine my passions and interests: my love of writing, my love of cooking and my love of my country's culture and traditions. I had various ideas for websites in mind, and when I started talking to my friend Rena about it, we decided to join forces and create Yummy Cyprus.
As with any new business, it has definitely been a labour of love. The first few years were just a whirlwind of work: travelling around our island, getting to know local producers and artisans, seeing different versions of traditional recipes in different villages around the country... then coming home and writing about everything for the website!
The feedback we received from the very beginning has been so positive and so encouraging. It shows that people around the world - people as far afield as Australia, Canada and the United States - are interested in learning about little old Cyprus' recipes and traditions.
We often received emails from people with questions like what are the forgotten Pastitsia sweets that can now only be found in local bakeries, or where can you find the root vegetable 'kolokasi' (taro) in Australia. We may not always have known the answers, but we'd go out and try to find them. Often this would involve hours of new research and conversations with locals. Yes, it's a lot of work, but the way I see it, if someone is interested in the answer and I have the ability to help (and learn at the same time) then it's worth the time!
There's an old saying by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, which says that 'everything flows', or 'changes' (Τα πάντα ρεί) . There is nothing permanent, except change. In our case, this was also true, as Rena and her husband decided some years ago that the time was right to move to the UK and be near their children and grandchildren. I must admit that I've had similar thoughts. But my four children and their families are scattered in different parts of the world. I spend all my free time visiting them, and they also visit me regularly in Cyprus, which means I get the best of both worlds!
So here we are. Yummy Cyprus is continuing as a one-grandmother operation. With the help of friends and my children, I’m working on relaunching the website.
I've also restructured the workshops and demonstrations to be more flexible around the demand for them. This comes from all over the place - from young locals, from tourists or foreigners living here, from schools, local organisations, tour operators or foreign groups based in Cyprus.
I'm honoured that there is so much interest in what I have to say and pass on, and I can't wait to share this knowledge with whoever wants to learn.
So please get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!