The most traditional food to eat in Malta during a trip
When you think about Malta the first thing that comes in your mind is certainly the sea, the hot weather and the amazing temperature. In reality, food must be considered a big part when you plan a trip to Malta and here you’re going yo discover why.
There’s an assumption to be made: in Malta eating is a serious thing, the portions are huge and food is the legacy to a difficult situation experienced during the Second World War.
The flavours are similar to the ones we have in Sicily and in the South of Italy and the joy of visiting Malta is also related to this link between Middle East and Europe, both in the culture and in the food.
Let’s discover together some of the most typical dishes from Malta and Gozo and start planning your next trip keeping in mind food and wine!
The pastizzi are considered the national dish of Malta. People eat pastizzi every time of the day; in the traditional way they’re flaky pastries filled with ricotta or mushy peas but someone is starting to make the “gourmet” version of the pastizzi with different fillings and a different pastry. Finding a “pastizzeria” in Malta and Gozo is so easy that you will never get tired of pastizzi. Each pastizz costs 30-40 cents/euro.
Where can you eat pastizzi? Everywhere but I advise Roger in Zejtun (for its traditional ones) and Marilù Vella’s Pastizzi Gourmet into the Montekristo Estate.
Like the pastizzi, the qassatat is certainly another traditional food from Malta. It’s basically a small pie filled with ricotta, mushy peas or a mix of spinach and anchovies.
The Ġbejna is the typical cheese from the Gozo Island and it’s goats’ cheese with salt and rennet. It can be eaten alone or used for making other dishes and can be served fresh or dried. The most popular Ġbejna is the one made by Rikardu Zammit in his farm in Gozo which can be eaten more or less in all the most important restaurants in Malta and Gozo.
The ftira is another important street food from Malta and Gozo. It’s also called pizza but the difference with an italian pizza is the dough where the edges are folded back on themselves and the dressing has always potatoes and often onions.
The ftira’s dough has to rest for 2 hours and 30 minutes and then it’s cooked at 250° into wood ovens but never in direct contact with the wood itself
Where to eat the Gozitan ftira?
Maxokk Bakery in Nadur is the place where you’ve to buy the ftira in Gozo. A full ftira costs about 5 euro.
The Maltese ravjul are similar to the italian ones but the dough is more consistent and they’re filled with the Ġbejna. They’re served with a tomato sauce with garlic. A pleasure to eat!
Fenkata (or Stuffat tal-fenek)
The famous maltese rabbit surprise for its delicate and soft meat and an accompanying sauce which is very special and tasty. Spices, tomato and wine make the rabbit unique and the peas are the perfect accompaniment.
The lampuki is the local fish and can be cooked in different ways, The traditional recipe is made pan frying the fish and serving it with a tick sauce with capers, tinned tomatoes, capers and onions.
The maltese starter
Starting your lunch or dinner without a plate to share seems inconceivable in Malta. The usual starter is composed with charcuteries, cheese, a lot of snacks and bread. Among all the other things, you can leave the island without a taste of the typical sausage (zalzett), the galletti, crackers made with water and flour and the hobs biz-zej a bruschetta style bread with tomato paste, olive oil and eventually cheese.
Baking is on of the highest expressions of the Maltese cuisine and it’s still linked to traditional values so that in the narrowest streets and the smaller villages you can still the smell of the local bakery. One of the baked product to be tasted when in Malta is the Qaghaq tal-Għasel an honey and spices ring that was originally made only for Christmas and now can be eaten all year round together with the imqaret , fried pastry filled with dates, one of the best things I’ve ever taste. The proximity of Malta to Sicily is reflected in two of the most famous desserts: the Kannoli and the kassata. If you love the Arabian flavors the Helwa tat-Tork is the right choice: a very rubbery paste made from sesame seeds and with the addition of honey.
The Maltese bread (hobza tal- Malti)
The Maltese bread is simply amazing with its crunchy crust and the soft dough. It’s made using sourdough and cooking it in a wooden oven. Eating the Maltese bread is a real experience so enjoyable you will easily risk gaining weight.
The national Maltese drink is the Kinnie, a drink similar to the italian chinotto with its bitter orange color while the local beer par excellence is the Cisk, slightly sweetish than the classical lager. The wine deserves a separate discussion while the liquor you really can’t miss is the bajtra, the prickly pear liqueur. The carob liqueur is also typical and presents a more bitter taste sometimes difficult to drink.
How to go and where to stay in Malta
If this list of dishes is really blowing your mind and you want to organize a trip to Malta and Gozo here a few suggestions for you. You can organize everything yourself by booking your flight with AirMalta and then choosing your hotel in Gozo and Malta. I was hosted by VisitMalta and I stayed at the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay in Malta and at the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz in Gozo; I would definitely recommend both of them for the service and the location.
[All photos have been taken by Giuseppe Milo which is the sole owner of all of them. You can see more pictures taken in Malta clicking here]