Just east of Paphos and nearby the mythical "Petra tou Romiou" lies the village of Yeroskipos, a place with a history that dates back to ancient times. Historical evidence suggests that its name is derived from the Greek words ‘Ieros Kipos’ meaning sacred or holy garden. It is believed that in ancient times the place used to be an extensive area of beautiful gardens dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite. Today, the presence of a number of archaeological sites and medieval monuments in the village and the surrounding area provide the evidence for its historical value and turns the place into an interesting attraction for visitors. But what makes the village of Yeroskipou an equally well-known attraction relates to a sweet and tasty product, named here in Cyprus ‘Yeroskipos loukoumia’. Travellers passing through the village, using the old Limassol-Paphos road will certainly come across a cluster of small gift shops along the roadside piled with baskets of colorful boxes filled with loukoumia of assorted flavors.
The story of Yeroskipou loukoumia dates back to the end of the 19th century when Sophocles Athanasiou returned back to his home village after a long stay abroad where he had learned the secrets behind the making of Turkish delights. Around 1895 Sophocles established a small workshop in his village, where he gave birth to the Cypriot version of Turkish delights, or better referred to as loukoumia in Greek. Over the years and through four generations, the small workshop has grown into an industry named today as the "APHRODITE YEROSKIPOS DELIGHTS LTD". The whole story behind the company and its founders is available by clicking on the company logo on the Online Food Hall. From the same initial workshop sprung another three local producers of lououmia, smaller in size that still operate in the Yeroskipou village.
The original Turkish lokoum is a 500-year old sweet making it one of the oldest sweets in the world. As the name implies it has its origins in Ottoman Turkey and was unveiled to the West during the 19th century. As early as the late 18th century, the Turkish delight was already regarded as the sweet of the upper-class ladies symbolizing peace and love.
Cyprus loukoumia are still made in the same way as they were produced 100 years ago but new technology has come into use so as to improve quality, reduce cost and maintain hygiene standards. The ingredients used are still few but simple and natural, put together to form a soft-textured sweet. In general, the ingredients used are sugar, corn flour, starch, water, almonds and different fruit aromas. The original lokoumia were made with rose flavor by boiling fragrant rose petals found locally in the fields and collecting the condensed moisture. The ingredients are mixed together in a large cauldron of boiled water where the mixture is stirred continuously for a few hours until it becomes smooth and creamy. The mixture is allowed to cool down for a while before the various flavors are added. The mixture is then poured into wooden boxes where it is let overnight to cool down completely. The final task of cutting the slabs into sugary cubes and packing them in retail boxes is the most labor intensive and costly job in the whole process.
Lokoumia are offered in a diverse range of flavors which are included in the mixture in the form of flavouring aromas, colouring agents and occasionally nuts. Flavours include,
- Chios Mastic
- Chocolate and nuts
Yeroskipos loukoumi is the first traditional food product of Cyprus to receive an approval as a Product of Geographic Indication under the EU regulations. This opens up new frontiers for the product and safeguards that no other producer can promote a product under the name ‘loukoumi with either Greek or Latin characters. The certification would also differentiate all authentic ‘Yeroskipos loukoumia’ producers and will prevent the production of imitation products of inferior quality.
Besides being the first traditional product of Cyprus that has become certified as an official national product, loukoumi also holds another world record, that of the Guinness World record of the biggest loukoumi ever made. This was achieved on Sunday October 17 of 2004, in the presence of officials from the Guinness World of Records. This day was declared ‘Loukoumi Day’ by the municipality of Yeroskipou. Production of the giant loukoumi, which was made by Aphrodite Delights in collaboration with other confectioners, started two days earlier. Cooks worked for three days and managed to produce 2,543kg of loukoumi slab beating the previous record, set in 1997, which was 2,349 kg. A festival was held on that day where people enjoyed pieces of this giant sweet.
Authentic Yeroskipou loukoumia can be supplied only by producers located in the village of Yeroskipou and are available in a diverse range of flavors and packages to suit the wider market needs.