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Moorish and Sicillian are two popular Maltese specialities. Maltese food is rustic and based on seasonal produce and the fisherman’s catch. Pastry of all kinds is used to encase vegetables, cheese, fish, meat, rice and pasta, producing tasty and filling dishes.
The most universally eaten Maltese pastry will hardly escape the notice of the visitor who explores the streets taking in the sounds, sights and scents of Malta. It is “pastizzi”, probably Turkish in origin, a small boat shaped delicacy of ricotta cheese and egg wrapped with thin crisp pastry. These are sold on street corners and in village bars everywhere, and eaten hot. Maltese normally take them as a snack with tea or coffee.
Stewed and stuffed dishes are also an important feature of Maltese cuisine. Many women still prefer the laborious job of preparing their own favourite “ravjul” (ravioli), semi circular pockets made from a semolina based pasta dough, filled with ricotta cheese and fresh parsley, served with homemade tomato sauce flavoured with parmesan cheese. “Ravjul” was originally one answer to the Church decree to abstain from meat on Fridays.
Seasonal salads and vegetables are an important feature of the Maltese kitchen. The best loved and most healthy dish is probably “minestra” (minestrone), a thick vegetable soup. In summer, a Maltese version of ratatouille called “kapunata” is made from tomatoes, green peppers, aubergines and garlic, and goes well with grilled fresh fish. All these delicious soups are taken with generous slices of the marvellous crusty Maltese bread (hobza) baked fresh daily in old fashioned and modern bakeries everywhere.
With the advent of summer, the variety of locally caught fish increases. By the end of
summer “lampuki” (dorado) becomes plentiful and is sold cheaply.
For those with a sweet tooth there are a number of unusual treats to sample. Cake shops sell treacle rings (qaghaq tal-ghasel) and almond maroons (biskuttini tel-lewz). During the summer when each village commemorates the feast of its patron saint with a pyrotechnic display, you will find gilded stalls selling opaque, white and clear, dark brown nougat made with sugar and nuts. A favourite delicacy with coffee or tea is “kannoli”, a mouth-watering tube shaped confection of crisp pastry stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese and pieces of chocolate and candied fruit.
Pastizzi is a very popular Maltese snack which is very cheap. They are made in two ways: A crunchy dough filled with fresh cheese (ricotta) or with peas (pizelli).
They have the form of a diamond and the best thing is that these only cost € 0,25 each.
Beef olives are very thin slices of tender beef stuffed with mince meat, ham, egg, folded into a parcel and simmered in a tomato sauce.
The like eating fried rabbit in red wine and garlic. Usually the rabbit is marinated in a bowl with onions, garlic and red wine for around one hour before frying. Around Malta and Gozo there are quite a few restaurants that specialize in cooking rabbit and they are very popular with the locals.
Octopus stew is chopped octopus gently cooked in a tomato and garlic concasse with olives, capers and herbs. It is usually served with rice or spaghetti.
Ingredients: 2 ibs octopus;8 ozs potatoes, cut into cubes; 4 ozs onions; 4 ozs peas; 4 ozs black olives; 2 ozs tomato pasta; lemon zest; garlic; 1 pt red wine and water.
Method: Clean the octopus and cut it into small pieces. It is recommended that the octopus is beaten with a kitchen mallet before cutting. Put it into a frying pan with some water and cook it for 20 minutes. Fry the onions and garlic, add the tomato pasta, tomatoes, grated lemon and olives. Let it simmer. Add the water and bring it to boil. Put in the octopus, peas, potatoes and wine. Care should be taken when seasoning the stew. That’s the recipe of an octopus stew.
The most wanted foods on Malta are fish, chicken, octopus stew, vegetables, rabbit stew and spaghetti. They often have dinner with their family but not every day. Some just have dinner with them only once a week. The Maltese people often eat fish because it is fresh and very good. Malta is famous for honey and so the Maltese like it very much. Another traditional foods are Tmgaret with dates and Bigilla with beans. For Christmas they eat turkey and they celebrate it on the 25 th December. Only once a week they have fast food because they follow a healthy diet. They usually cook at home and they eat three times a day. Their favourite sweets are chocolate, gateau and Kit Kat and their favourite fishes are Sword fish and Stockfish. Sometimes they eat vegetarian dishes and the like eating strawberries, apples and bananas. Some of them eat vegetables six times a day and other only eat them four times a week. The strangest things they have ever eaten are horse meat and tong.
They also have family recipes from Kawlata (vegetables with meat and Maltese sausages), Timpana, Preup Pie and Spaghetti Bolognaise. Cousous from Egypt and Curry from India are two of many favourite foreign foods. The sweets which are called “Maltesers” are very popular and they love eating them.