About the food of Malta

Malta, Gozo, Azure Window. Photo by Berthold Werner.

Today I’d love to be in tiny Malta (she’s 122 square miles small). I’d like to bask on a rock in the Mediterranean sun, listen to the crashing waves, and daydream until I smell dinner. And what a dinner it would be… think Italian. Think French. Arabic. Pasta and red sauce. Artichokes. Olives and capers. Rabbit stewed in wine. Fish swimming in soup.

The fresh salty air would whet my appetite. And boy would I eat.

Inland sea. Photo by Sudika.

The flavors are bold and the feelings are bolder. My heritage has taught me that Italians are full of passion and simplicity. I get the same feeling from the Maltese. This is a culture that whips up beautiful, hearty food without muss or fuss. The company is what matters, after all.

For a snack, they even enjoy spreading Maltese bread (a nice crusty slightly sour loaf is a good option) with nothing more than tomato paste – talk about simple! If you’re feeling extra fancy, add anchovies, capers, and a drizzle of olive oil. Another simple dish is the Bigilla, or spicy bean mash – a recipe which is a direct influence from Turkey.

Then there’s stuffed artichokes – one of my favorite foods on this planet (see our recipe for when we cooked Italy). The Maltese have their own version which is entirely different in flavor and texture – Maltese Stuffed Artichokes (Qaqoċċ Mimli) [Recipe].

Malta, Mdina, St. Paul's Cathedral. Photo by Berthold Werner

If you’d like something more complex, then you really need to check out the Pastizzi – their flaky  stuffed pastries – which contain either a ricotta filling or a mashed pea filling. The older generation continue to teach their children and grandchildren how to pull the dough as thin as leaf, then slather it with butter and lard – creating layer upon layer of flaky goodness similar to puff pastry (although word on the street is puff pastry doesn’t even come close in flavor).

Like the Italians, they enjoy their fair share of pasta – by itself, in casseroles, and even mixed into omelets. Can you imagine? An omelet filled with angel hair pasta – what sort of life have I been living that I haven’t tried this treat? (Try our Vermicelli Fritatta (Froga tat-Tarja Recipe)

If you’d like to end on a sweet note, there are Figolli – Easter cookies filled with almond paste and topped with a sweet egg candy – Marzipan Easter Cookies from Malta (Figolla) [Recipe]. Goodness gracious.

If you need me, I’ll be in Malta.

Photo by Günter König. Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook.

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Comments

  1. Can I point you in the direction of the excellent SBS broadcasting series on world cuisine called Food Safari, in particular the episode on Malta, which should be available online.

    One recipe that took my eye, but which I have yet to do, is the one for Puddina – a sort of Maltese version of the British bread pudding. One day I will get round to making it and putting it on my site!

    http://www.sbs.com.au/food/foodsafarirecipe/index/id/112/n/Puddina

    The one query I have with the recipe is what they mean by ‘one loaf’. The programme version used a number of rolls and I assume it means a large rather than small sized loaf. Apart from that it looks delicious…. Will be watching to see what else you come up with!

    hopeeternal
    http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com
    ‘ Meanderings through my Cookbook’

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I adore Food Safari! It’s such a fun video series – I believe it is all out of Australia, but they find people from so many corners of the world. Really great stuff. The bread pudding does look tasty – would be fun to try for sure. :)

  2. Jym Brittain says:

    Maltese cuisine is such a melange of Mediterranean and Arabic influences as is the language. It is distinctly it’s own and completely different from Italian, like the people and food. I, as a person with grandparents who emigrated to the States from Malta, have been waiting for this week since I discovered your project!

  3. odumade odutola says:

    am so much love malta country. i wish 2 be there one day . i greet the president of the country

    • odumade odutola says:

      am so much love malta country. i wish 2 be there one day . i greet the president of the country. who can assist me. how can i get my visa to malta?

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