Summer is almost upon us, and with the changing of the seasons comes the changing of a variety of other things. You change your wardrobe, your shoe closet, your favourite hangout spots, and inevitably, your diet. The heat makes us crave fresh, salty and summery foods, foods the Maltese have been eating for years on end. So beat the heat and indulge in some traditional Maltese grub!
1. Zebbug Mimli
A staple in every Maltese party, Holy Communion, wedding, and BBQ, these tiny, tasty stuffed goodies are a must. These go well with many other food items on this list and embody that salty, fresh taste that we so crave in Summer. You can buy stuffed olives straight from the store, however, if you fancy a more authentic taste, try preparing them yourself!
2. Ftira biz-Zejt
Ah, the epitome of Maltese cuisine, one of the simplest foods packing the most intense flavours. The Hobz biz-Zejt, or Ftira biz-Zejt, has been proven to taste best by the seaside and is the perfect snack to pack for a picnic or a day at the beach. You can really and truly assemble it any which way you like, however, the 'official' version remains this one.
Bigilla can be crowned as the Official Maltese Dip, and it has quite the celebrity status on the island. Made from dried broad beans, this traditional dip is another standard BBQ appetizer, or any kind of appetizer really (you'll find Bigilla served at bars and kazini around the island). Readily found in most convenient stores and supermarkets, this dip is quite easy to make if you're up to it!
Bebbux is Maltese for snails or escargots in French. The Maltese dish is quite different from the French one though, traditionally served with Arjoli (pasty goodness mainly made from tuna and anchovies) on Good Friday, or as a stew with heavenly gravy. This typical Maltese dish is the perfect side to a cold beer, thus making it perfect for summer. Try the recipe here!
Gbejna (pl. gbejniet) is a typical Maltese cheese, traditionally associated with our sister island of Gozo. These small round cheeses are made from sheep's milk, and can be found in various forms: fresh (gbejna friska), sun-dried, salt-cured, or peppered (gbejna tal-bzar). These go extremely well with Hobz biz-Zejt, even though they're delicious on their own! You can find gbejniet at your nearest convenience store or supermarket.
6. Qaqocc Mimli
Qaqocc simply translates to stuffed artichokes, another must of Maltese cuisine. Each Maltese household has its own different recipe, some cutting the leaves and filling the heart, some pushing the leaves back and stuffing them with the filling - you won't find the same dish twice, but they're all mouth-wateringly exquisite. Try this recipe here, and enjoy with some tasty Mediterranean salad on the side!
7. Helwa tat-Tork
This list could not be complete without something sweet. Helwa tat-Tork is an oriental sweet made up of tahini, almonds and vanilla. It has a texture like no other, and can be sickly sweet if consumed in abundance! The Maltese usually have this sweet with some coffee at the end of a large meal, and it is traditionally also served in parties and festivities. Although readily available in most supermarkets, you can try your hand at making it yourself!