The Island of the “loveless salad“

Day 10: Super Size MeIt’s all the Brits’ fault, I keep hearing and I also see the discrimination between “locals” and “tourists” becoming ever more apparent. This may seem insignificant to you, but the tip of the iceberg can no longer be ignored. Starting with the comment in the Greek press some three weeks ago that the Turks (Mainland) the Greeks (Mainland) and above all the British (who according to the article were responsible for the Enosis/Eoka thing anyway) should all leave the island to let everybody go back to where they were in 1960 or was it 1950 or it may even have been 1963.  That, apparently, would solve the Cyprus Problem.

So how do you get rid of the Brits? There are several concurrent activities, some more subtle than others. Let’s leave aside the blatant ones like the Day’s case or the procession of rip offs in the property market. Let’s look at some of the specialities the island has to offer; The Famous Cyprus Potato. Many restaurants are now offering separate types of food for Brits so that instead of the beautiful hand made golden crisp Cyprus ones they get frozen chips instead. Why? We asked the restaurant owner and the answer was astounding. “The Brits want them like that! They prefer them all the same size and crinkled.”

“OK what about the salad?” “What about it?” The question, I explained, is whether you would serve a salad like this at home to guests?  “No I wouldn’t but that’s not the point. What’s wrong with it?” No onions, no dressing, no taste. “Oh, but the English prefer it like that!” That I presume was why many full plates went back to the kitchen untouched, it was because the clientele enjoyed them so much. All around me was the sound of disgruntled customers saying we won’t be coming back, the food is crap!

We were sitting with some Germans at the time and they were amused that Brits were complaining about food. They believed that for the British, food comes high on the list of the world’s shortest books; “The British Gourmet Cook Book”.  I could go on with the list; “Famous Belgians” “Italian War Heroes” etc but I’ll leave it for you.

It wasn’t the first restaurant that week where we noticed the Chip Substitution and the Loveless Salad. Is it a deliberate government strategy? It all seems too coordinated and well timed to be put down to the usual “cock ups in the kitchen” much too “spontaneous”. These are two things that are cheap and easy to correct, but apparently as a service to the Brits they are being subtly substituted instead of the real thing. Mixed salad should have onions, olives (don’t they grow here somewhere?) sheep’s cheese, olive oil, herbs. Real chips are made from real potatoes and are crisp and golden. Unfortunately, not many speciality restaurants are serving that kind of food anymore. Unless of course you are Turkish or brave enough to send the rubbish back and demand the “real thing”.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Amadeus Varadi Hellequin

I suppose I might as well go the whole hog (perhaps that should be chicken?) and ask for homemade Tahin and aubergines that don’t come out of a tin and freshly made Humus, or a grilled fish that isn’t stiff as a board and lacking in any garnish or hint of seasoning. I’m not talking about ketchup and mayonnaise added in great dollops to make it slide down more easily. I’m talking about TASTE. Don’t tell me the Brits have lost it! This isn’t football!

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