It’s hard to remember a time when halloumi wasn’t part of the British diet, but Cypriots have brought more to London than brined cheese. Following Cyprus’s independence from Britain in 1960, clashes between Greek and Turkish communities (culminating in the 1974 Turkish invasion) prompted mass emigration to the UK. Many Greek-Cypriots set up camp in Camden while Turkish-Cypriots opted for Stoke Newington. Green Lanes acted as a meeting place and soon became the ‘spinal cord’ of Cypriot London, with Greek and Turkish restaurants, cafés and supermarkets trading harmoniously side-by-side.
Many second-generation Cypriots like myself will have vivid memories of being dragged to Greek or Turkish school at the weekends to fortify our connection with the homeland. Though Cyprus remains partitioned, the younger generation is working to reunify the ‘island of love’. Sophia Charalambous
Did you know? Cyprus is a DLR station in Newham. It was named after the Cyprus Estate – built to house Royal Albert Dock workers and given its moniker to mark the UK’s acquisition of Cyprus in 1878.
Sophia’s favourite Cypriot spots in London
Head to Cockfosters to try some Greek Cypriot staples at Deserie. Order the halloumi and loukanika (sausage) to start, followed by sheftalia with a side of pourgouri, washed down with a Keo beer.
Yasar Halim – a Green Lanes institution since 1981 – will sort you out with all the Cypriot supermarket staples. Don’t miss the freshly made traditional pastries.
Chef Selin Kiazim’s modern interpretation of Turkish-Cypriot cuisine makes Oklava in Shoreditch a must-visit. The grilled Cypriot pastirma sausage and Cyprus potato, tulum, egg yolk and summer truffle pide (flatbread) will leave you ravenous for more.
For concerts, lectures, exhibitions, Greek-language courses or dance classes, the Hellenic Centre has you covered.
London Greek Radio started as a pirate station in 1983 for a mainly Greek-Cypriot audience. Now an established independent station, it broadcasts in both Greek and English.
The best of Cypriot London, according to you
‘Vrisaki in Bounds Green has an awesome meze selection.’ Dimitris A via Facebook
‘Paneri Taverna in Palmers Green: authentic Greek Cypriot meze, just like being in Cyprus.’ Skevi I via Facebook
‘Raphael’s Bakery & Patisserie in Barnet is great for a savoury or sweet snack.’ Marianna M via www.timeout.com