THE MAGICAL LIFE OF A FLAMENCO DANCER
Captured by The Recipe Hunters in Cyprus
How did we meet Deirdre?
We first came across Deirdre while perusing through the website airbnb. Airbnb is an online database of people’s homes across the world who are willing to host guests for a fee. Think hotels.com but for local’s homes. As a side note, we highly recommend the website not only for a place to stay while traveling but also for the opportunity to see how a local lives, get the inside scoop on the place you are visiting, and to make new friends. Instead of searching for accommodations as the website intends, we were skimming through people’s profiles hoping to find a local Cypriot passionate about cooking traditional food. The method had proven victorious in Karime’s case, so we were eager and hopeful that airbnb was our Cypriot key to opening up the kitchens and recipes of locals. Each country, we have found, requires a new technique in finding locals to teach us their recipes, whether it be befriending the local priest, attending a neighborhood knitting club, or utilizing online databases such as workaway.info and airbnb.com. Airbnb paved way for us since the database invariably introduces you to people who are willing and open to the idea of sharing their cultures and homes. Deirdre’s airbnb profile stated that one of her greatest passions is cooking. Not only did Deirdre love to cook but she was also running her own small restaurant from her home called “Gardens of Irini,” from which Deirdre would whip up a local dish and treat her guests to a cozy fireside dinner…Jackpot. We decided to message her and were delighted to receive this response:
Dear Anthony and Leila
So pleased to hear from you! I've been running my little restaurant for the past 25 years, and my favourite dish is "stifado" - the recipe of which I'd be delighted to share with you. Please come up and see me at the Gardens of Irini in Bellapais - I look forward to meeting you,
And there our journey began, off to a Stifado recipe at Dierdre’s.
Is that you in the flamenco dancing picture?
Deirdre is Scotland born, the only child to two traveling doctors, her father doubling as a passionate music composer and pianist. Her family fled Europe during WWII and her parents relocated to Kuwait where they spent a majority of their time working and managing a local hospital. Deirdre's parents decided to move to Cyprus to raise Deirdre. Deidre, in turn, spent the majority of her childhood and young adulthood living in Cyprus. On her 21st birthday, her parents bestowed upon her 1,000 GBP (british pounds) and the option to spend 200 of the lump some to travel alongside her parents to Spain. Between the three of them, they spent 700 lbs living in Spain for 3 months. During Deirdre’s last three nights in Spain, Deirdre fell in love with the art of flamenco dancing and Jim (a young American who was living in Madrid). She returned to Cyprus but the love letters with Jim continued. A few months later, Deirdre bought a one-way ticket back to Madrid and dyed her hair black. Upon her return to Madrid, Jim introduced Deirde to a man named Antonio, who became Deidre’s flamenco mentor and dance tutor. Antonio arranged for his sister to tailor and design a dress for Deidre and Jim began to play flamenco guitar. With a new dress, a newfound passion, and locks of gorgeous long black hair, Deidre changed her name to Candela Flores and took Spain by storm.
A few years later Deirdre gave birth to her only son, Chris. When he turned two she decided to move to Dallas with her son and husband. She continued her flamenco dancing in clubs in Dallas, but when dancing became a job and a not a passion, she decided to retire her dress and explore other opportunities. Life in Texas became dull. When she felt that her son was old enough, she left him with his father and spent years travelling throughout South America. Upon returning to the United States, she met an alluring, mysterious, and bright man named Don, a carpenter and exporter, who travelled back and forth between Texas and Mexico selling pottery. She joined him and lived for some time in a 14 foot dodge van travelling between borders. She recalled to us nights in the desert where they would have roadside fires and days spent in small villages in Guadalahara examining pottery and artisinal products to be brought back with her and Don in their van to be sold in Texas. After many years on the road Deirdre longed to be back in Cyprus and decided to leave the Americas and Don behind. Ever since, Deirdre has remained living the majority of her time in Cyprus where she has started a bed and breakfast out of the house her parents left her.
And this is where our lives intersect, at Deirdre's beautiful charming home, where she spends hours with us recounting her story, between sips of wine, as she fries onions, peels carrots, and teaches us how to make the delicious traditional recipes she learned while living in Cyprus.