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15 April, 2024
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How an ex-pilot turned halloumi tradition upside down

Cyprus grapples with halloumi specification changes


In the heart of Nicosia, Cyprus, Pantelis Panteli, a former airline pilot turned cheese maker, is redefining tradition with his exclusive Halloumi crafted from ewe's milk. Following the closure of Cyprus Airways in 2013, Panteli ventured into cheese-making, creating a niche for himself in the age-old craft.

As reported by Reuters, amidst a brewing debate over the ingredients of Cyprus's cherished Halloumi, Panteli stands as a staunch advocate for the traditional recipe. While the mainstream trend favors cow's milk for its milder taste, Panteli remains dedicated to the tangier blend of goat and ewe milk, a choice that resonates with purists.

"I'm sticking to the real thing," Panteli asserts, his commitment unwavering as he tends to his flock of 300 sheep at his farm in Kokkinotrimithia, west of Nicosia.

With humble beginnings and familial guidance, Panteli's 'Kouella' brand of Halloumi has gained traction, despite regulatory constraints limiting his daily milk production to 150 liters. Leveraging social media platforms like TikTok, Panteli's cheesy delights quickly sell out, a testament to Halloumi's enduring popularity both locally and abroad.

The controversy surrounding Halloumi's ingredients has sparked farmer demonstrations, with industry stakeholders raising concerns about the seasonal availability of ewe and goat's milk. Authorities, acknowledging the challenges, have extended the deadline for full compliance with specifications to 2029.

Nicos Papakyriakou, director-general of the cattle breeders association, underscores the historical inclusion of cows' milk in Halloumi, emphasizing its pivotal role in expanding overseas markets. Despite regulatory tensions, the essence of Halloumi's distinct aroma remains a focal point, bridging tradition with modern demands.

As Cyprus navigates the delicate balance between heritage and innovation, Panteli and his fellow cheese makers embody the resilience of a timeless tradition amidst evolving tastes and regulations.

[With information sourced from Reuters]

Cyprus  |  halloumi  |  pilot  |  government  |  battle

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