This completes a little two-parter of mine to make the foods of the countries where COVID-19 made my travel plans fall though. My trip to Malta was due to happen just before Easter 2020, a week after they announced mandatory 2 week quarantine to anyone entering the country. Really didn’t make a 5 day visit feel worth it.
I’ll make it to Malta eventually, but for now it was actually quite nice to look into some of the foods that I might have been able to find when I was there. Also helped further cement into my head how interesting the Maltese language looks and how, if I had been there, I was clearly going to bank on people speaking English since it is one of those nations that used to be part of the British Empire.
There are some British influences on the cuisine, but the strongest influences are mercifully the local trading nations. That makes for an interesting mix of Italian with a influence of France and North Africa. Despite being the tenth smallest country in the world, and officially under the same microstate umbrella as Monaco, San Marino and Nauru, the wealth of cuisine to pick from was somewhat dizzying. Especially the wide array of desserts. Wow the desserts I could make for Malta. This is really an underrated cuisine.
The national dish of Malta is rabbit pie. I like rabbit, but as I couldn’t find a decent way to source rabbit meat, I had to go to plan b – which would also appear to be the runner up national dish. This baked pasta dish consists of a variation of a bolognese sauce mixed with cheese, egg and a large tube shaped pasta.
As you may notice from the picture, this recipe (courtesy of A Maltese Mouthful) made a bit too much to fit into my regular pasta dish. I had to give it a proper press down and a bit of rearranging in order to get everything in – and even then I had rigatoni and peas trying to claim asylum underneath my freezer. When this recipe says serves six, they were not kidding. Usually my husband and myself can share a three person portion between us as a meal – for this we ended up having to really spread this out over multiple days.
This really is the sort of hearty meal that makes for a great meal for a cold and rainy autumn or winter day. Not sure where this would fit into the Maltese climate and their average temperature.
Kwareżimal. I still have no idea how to pronounce this because of the ‘ż’, but as the name comes from the Italian word “quaresima” – meaning the forty days of Lent – I can make an educated guess. There are so many of these Lenten cakes and biscuits that can be found around different European cuisines – including one I made for Finland – and they share similar flavour palettes of spice and citrus.
In this instance, following the recipe from Apron & Whisk, it also meant that I was able to get use of the orange blossom water that I used in all my Algerian food. The smell of cookies baking, which seem to contain every vegan baking ingredient under the sun (plus honey), was ultimately that of the orange blossom. They smelt amazing in the oven and they came out absolutely massive. Delicious, but massive.
Since it is autumn (as I write this), there are a lot of pumpkins available – which means it is time to go through my saved recipes to find those where pumpkins are needed. I had a lovely conversation with a supermarket employee about ways to cook them. Should make for some fun posts.