Malta's Unique Delicacies
As much as it’s a Mediterranean island, the food you’ll find in Malta has plenty of its own defining features, from the way it’s served to its tradition and history. Luckily the flavours are pretty special too, which you’ll find for yourself if you’re lucky enough to eat in a true family-run restaurant.
As with anywhere else in the Med, food in Malta is a rich part of the tapestry of daily life. Meals are defined by a healthy mix of seafood, sweet treats, succulent meats and a selection of stews.
Influences from Greece and Italy have seen a love of olive oils, arancini and plenty more find their rightful place on the menu.
Bread for success
We love a good loaf at home too, but Malta’s bread is proudly proclaimed by the locals as being a cut above the rest.
If you’re wondering if it really is as upper crust as they say, take a bite for yourself during your holiday and make your own opinion.
The rich, rustic sourdough crust of Maltese loaves forms a robust shell that conceals an airy, fluffy interior, while the distinctive flavour of the bread defines it as the centrepiece of almost any meal.
What’s more, Maltese soups, stews and seafood broths all encourage you to mop up the saucy remnants with a dab of bread.
The loaves themselves don’t last as long as our pre-packaged varieties, but they don’t have to since they’re so quickly polished off. They’re baked locally around the clock to catch breakfast-makers as much as evening supper shoppers, with many bakeries firing up their kilns in time for a 5am start.
Savoury snacks on every street
While you’ll find the world’s major fast food chains having set up shop in Malta, it’s the street vendors and small establishments who hold the real flavours. The truest tradition awaits in pastizzi, which are flaky pastry shapes filled with cheese, mushy peas and other saucy flavours.
Health-nuts will also love the more robust offer of a good qassatat, which is a pastry packed with spinach, cheese and even more peas.
If your vegetarian friends are feeling a little smug at the thought, you carnivores can tuck into Maltese sausage rolls, which are fully loaded and double up with cheese for extra flavour.
Drink up like a local
All that good food is going to make you crave some decent drinks to match, and in Malta they add their flair for flavour to their own unique island favourites. For beer lovers, the tipple of choice is mild yet satisfying cisk, pronounced as ‘chisk’, which is always in ample supply during hot days on the beach.
As far as soft drinks are concerned, Kinnie is the way to go. The bittersweet flavour of the oranges used in its production on Malta has given it a distinctive taste, which proved so popular that a side brand called Kinnie Zest popped up some years later with an even more marked flavour.
Kinnie is also used as a mixer for the various rum, vodka and gin drinks they love here.
Don't skip dessert
You may have filled up with tasty Maltese tucker, but get that dessert stomach ready nonetheless.
For starters, you can switch those savoury pastries for sweet ones in enjoying a fruity, flaky imqarat, rich with juicy date syrups within. Crunchy tubes called kannoli – a nod to those they enjoy in Italy – blend chocolates, cherries and cream in bitesize morsels.
You’ll also find that seasonal sweets will vary depending on when you take your Maltese break. If you visit around spring, the Easter treats called figolli come out to play, which are tiny iced cakes full of marzipan and cut into animal shapes.
Around Halloween and All Saint’s Day on 2nd November, ghadam tal-mejtin make for a spooky bone-shaped sweet. Christmas is when honey rings are served with afternoon tea, although the popularity of this snack has made them available all year in many areas.