Nestled in the Mediterranean, the archipelago of Malta offers an enticing blend of Sicilian, British, and local Maltese cuisines. Here are ten essential tips for navigating Malta’s unique gastronomic landscape.
1. Start with Traditional Maltese Bread
Begin your culinary journey with ‘Hobz biz-zejt,’ a traditional Maltese snack of crusty bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes and topped with olive oil, mint, and local cheese. Also, don’t miss the crunchy Maltese bread, ‘Ftira.’
2. Enjoy the Taste of the Sea
Malta’s prime location in the Mediterranean Sea provides an abundance of fresh seafood. Try the traditional fish soup ‘Aljotta,’ or the ‘Lampuki Pie,’ a seasonal dish made with dorado (lampuki) fish, spinach, and olives.
3. Relish Maltese Rabbit Dishes
Rabbit (fenek) holds a special place in Maltese cuisine. ‘Fenkata,’ a slow-cooked rabbit stew, and ‘Spaghetti Fenek,’ spaghetti with rabbit sauce, are national favorites worth trying.
4. Indulge in Maltese Pastizzi
‘Pastizzi,’ the local pastry filled with ricotta cheese or mushy peas, is a must-try. These flaky pastries are a popular street food and a perfect snack on the go.
5. Discover Maltese Cheeses
Malta produces a variety of soft and hard cheeses. ‘Gbejna,’ small round cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk, often served peppered, salted, or as a plain variant, is a staple.
6. Savor Maltese Sweets and Desserts
For those with a sweet tooth, ‘Imqaret’ (date pastries) and ‘Kannoli’ (tube-shaped shells of fried pastry filled with ricotta) are delightful treats.
7. Quench Your Thirst with Local Beverages
Try ‘Kinnie,’ a Maltese bitter-sweet soft drink, and the locally brewed ‘Cisk’ beer. For wine enthusiasts, Maltese wines, especially from the Meridiana wine estate, are a pleasant surprise.
8. Visit Local Markets and Festivals
The Marsaxlokk fish market is a vibrant spot to buy fresh seafood and Maltese delicacies. Festivals like the ‘Festa Frawli’ (Strawberry Feast) showcase local produce and traditional foods.
9. Follow Local Dining Etiquette
The Maltese appreciate good food and enjoy long, leisurely meals. Take your time and savor the food. Remember, tipping is customary in restaurants.
10. Dine at a Maltese Farmhouse
For a unique dining experience, consider dining at a traditional Maltese farmhouse (‘Razzett’). These offer an authentic taste of rural Maltese cuisine.
Maltese cuisine, with its diverse influences and use of fresh, local ingredients, offers a memorable culinary experience for every food lover. As they say in Malta, “L-Ikla t-tajba” – Enjoy your meal!