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The particular morphology of the ground of the Cyclades played for centuries a fundamental role in the occupations of residents. The sea that surrounds the Islands, provides them with her richly produce, but simultaneously compels them to be self reliant.

The islands have few flat areas and yet fewer mountain plateaus, where water is rare, hill sides where the locals patiently built escalations with stones, in order to cultivate the ground and nourish their animals.

The Cycladic ground gives the basic raw materials for survival: olive oil, potatoes, fava, tomatoes, and capers. The fish become salted or "gouna" (one of the most peculiar specialties, sun dried fish, mainly in Paros), in order to last the winter. Meats are salted and become sausages, "siglina", "louza" or "apokti". Dairy products acquire fame beyond the limits of the Cyclades and throughout the whole of Greece: the kopanisti of Syros, Tinos and Mykonos, tyrokafteri of Naxos, the gruyere of Naxos and Tinos, the green cheese of Santorini, the San Michael of Syros, the arsenico of Naxos and Sikinos, petroti of Andros and Tinos, the malachto cheese of Andros, and the skotyri of Ios. The local specialty of Sifnos and Folegandros is the "gylomeno" cheese, the most extraordinary cheese in all Greece that matures and is maintained in sediments of wine.

The rocky and poor in vegetation islands are covered with low bushes and thyme, which give exceptional honey, basic component of the Cycladic diet and raw material for countless sweet recipes.

Exploitation of each piece of cultivatable ground from their thousands of viticulturists led to a unique and rich tradition of vine and wine. Santorini and Paros have a distinct position in wine production of Cyclades, with white varieties as aidani, athiri, monembasia, and red such as mandilaria. The traditional Santorinian types of wine like mprousko, nychteri and the "sun dried" strong vinsanto wine are also famous. Andros, Tinos and Naxos produce certain marvellous types of wine. And of course, along with the organised wine factories, many winemakers that continue the local tradition, cultivating forgotten and rare varieties of grapes as strofyliatiko, serifiotiko, avgoustiatis, katsano, armeletousa, proniko, romeiko, askathari, mavroliatis, still exist in all the islands.


Despite the relatively small number of raw materials, that the islands produce, Cycladic cuisine impresses with its variety, originality and simplicity, having endless flavour surprises: stuffed fish in the oven, octopus meatballs, herring salad, urchin salad, snails garlic dip (Paros), octopus with small pasta (Schoinousa), marinated fish "saboro" (Kythnos), wild rabbit in wine (Antiparos), paspalas (small pieces of pork cooked with tomato and eggs, Kea), ladenia, (olive oil bread with tomato and onion, Kimolos), patatato (kiddling cooked with potatoes, tomato and herbs, "national food" to the Small Cyclades), "pentarates potatoes" (Naxos), fava "blended" with thyme and capers (Thirasia), karpouzenia (sweet pie with watermelon, honey and sesame, Folegandros).

Specific celebrative foods give a festive tone to all festive days of the year: At Easter in Andros, locals cook in traditional wood ovens "lampriati", lamb stuffed with cheese, eggs, herbs, dill and spearmint. In Sifnos, the official resurrection dish is the "mastelo", lamb cooked in the oven on vine branches with local red wine and dill. In Iraklia, the locals cook lamb or kid stuffed with groat, butter, cheese and walnuts, in Schinousa lamb stuffed with rice and herbs, and in Naxos lamb stuffed with liver, cheese and spices.

The sweet cuisine of the Cyclades demonstrates the marvellous "spoon sweets", the scent full marzipan cakes, kydonopasto from Naxos, the karydaki of Andros and, of course, the famous Turkish delights and halvadopites of Syros.

At feasts, marriages and  baptisms, locals serve the traditional sugarplum from almonds boiled in local honey, nougat with honey on lemon tree leaves, cooked raki (liqueur with raki, honey and herbs), kitro (specialty of Naxos) and cherry or mandarin liqueur. During Christmas, landords in Folegandros fry "makarones", on the 6th of January the people of Donousa make "fotopites", on Easter they serve lychnarakia in Tinos and melitini (sweet cheese pies from fresh unsalted cottage cheese, scented with mastic, cinnamon, orange or vanilla) in Santorini.

And thus Cycladic flavours link the past with the present, the entertained with the house-holders, the visitors with the locals and life becomes a little bit sweeter!
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