The Typical Maltese Cuisine
Malta’s cuisine is highly influenced by Sicilian and North African flavours as our island is located in the centre of the Mediterranean. Traditional food is one of the main characteristics of the Maltese Islands. Amongst the various items, one can find a wide selection of vegetables, breads, cheeses and pasta.
The list of famous Maltese dishes is never ending. The typical Maltese dish is rabbit cooked in a variety of ways; it can be marinated, stewed or fried in olive oil. The picturesque village of Mgarr has many restaurants which are specialised in rabbit dishes, locally known as the Fenkata.
Another popular Maltese dish is Bragioli which consists of thin beef slices wrapped around a filling of breadcrumbs, chopped bacon, garlic, parsley and a slice of boiled egg. This dish is usually served with vegetables and potatoes at the side.
As we already mentioned pasta dishes are very popular amongst the Maltese. A typical pasta dish is the Baked Macaroni known as Mqarrun fil-Forn or else Timpana. This is a heavy dish of macaroni mixed with a Bolognese sauce, bacon and chopped vegetables. It also includes peas and is topped with grated cheese.
Typical, cheap snacks found on the Maltese Islands are the traditional cheese or pea cakes known aspastizzi. This rich savoury pastry is filled with either ricotta or peas and is baked in the oven until it turns golden brown. Beware of the pastizzi as they are highly calorific!
Other popular snacks include gbejniet (local sheep’s cheeses) which can be accompanied by galletti (a type of local cracker), bigilla (a mixture of bean pate) and the Maltese ftira (typical roundish bread) topped with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Finally, to name is the Maltese sausage which has a coriander flavour.
Soups are the speciality of Maltese housewives. During colder periods one can taste the Minestra which is a thick soup based on a selection of local vegetables or else the Soppa tal-Armla (Widow’s soup) which includes the cheapest vegetables of the season. These soups are normally found in the starter’s section of the restaurants’ menus.
Since Malta is surrounded by the sea, one cannot exclude to mention the variety of fresh fish found in fishermen’s villages such as Marsaxlokk. This locality is famous with both tourists and locals for its selection of genuine fish restaurants. The famous Maltese fish, lampuka (Dolphinfish), is not to be missed.
When it comes to speak about local desserts, the list is endless. First on the list are the pastries filled with dates, the imqaret and the nougat known as qubbajt. These typical desserts are commonly found during the local summer village feasts known as Festi tar-rahal.
Each special occasion brings along a variety of desserts. During the Christmas period for example Maltese tend to do the qaghaq tal-ghasel (honey rings), during the Easter period one can find the Figolliwhich are almond stuffed pastries decorated with icing sugar or chocolate, depending on the taste!
As a conclusion, we can mention some local beverages bottled in the Maltese islands. The popular non alcoholic beverage, the Kinnie, has a bitter sweet orange taste, similar to the Italian Chinotto. The Cisk is our local lager beer found everywhere on the island. A taste of these two beverages is a must do while visiting the island!
Malta offers a large variety of places to dine. In the central areas like St. Julians, Sliema and Valletta as well as St. Pauls Bay hundreds of restaurants offer an exciting mix of foods ranging from typical Maltese cuisine to fusion cuisine between North African and Mediterranean cuisine. From international fast food chains to fine dining in fish speciality restaurants, from the local snack bar offering Maltese snacks to the themed restaurants from all over the world, Malta has a wide choice of places to go. Most popular for eating out during summer are Sliema and St. Julians with many restaurants located on the picturesque sea promenade allowing a nice stroll after a good dinner.
The Maltese population also has a very lively “eating out” culture, especially in the summer month when piazzas are turned into meeting places for families and friends and when the promenades are bustling with people as soon as the sun goes down and the temperature becomes bearable.