Food in Malta
Maltese food is difficult to locate, yet it does exist. The food consumed is influenced by Italian cuisine. Most restaurants in resort areas like Sliema cater mostly to British visitors, with pub fare like meat and three veg or bangers and mash, and’real’ Maltese food is hard to come across. Rabbit (fenek) is one of the island’s specialties, and tiny savory pastries known as pastizzi are also popular.
Fenkata, a rabbit feast cooked overnight in wine and bay leaves, is the Maltese celebration supper. The first dish is typically spaghetti with rabbit sauce, followed by stewed or fried rabbit meat (with or without gravy). Look for fenkata-only eateries, such as Ta L’Ingliz in Mgarr.
True Maltese cuisine is simple and centered on fish and vegetables—the sort of food that a poor farmer, fisherman, or mason would have had access to. Soppa ta’ l-armla (widow’s soup), for example, is just a coarse mash of whatever veggies are in season, boiled in a thick tomato stock. Then there’s arjoli, which is a spiced and oiled julienne of vegetables to which are added butter beans, bigilla, a puree made from broadbeans and herbs, and whatever other delicacies are available, such as Maltese sausage (a confection of spicy minced pork, coriander seeds, and parsley wrapped in stomach lining) or bejniet (simple cheeselets made from goats’ or sheep milk and rennet,
Maltese sausage is very flexible and tasty. It may be eaten fresh (despite looks, the pork is salted), dried, or roasted. It’s an excellent idea to sample it as part of a Maltese platter, which is becoming more popular in tourist eateries. Sun-dried tomatoes and bigilla with water crackers are very delicious. By the end of summer, one may load up on fried lampuki (dolphin fish) in tomato and caper sauce.
Try a piece of ob bi-ejt, which is leavened Maltese bread split into large bits, or unleavened ftira baked and served soaked in oil. The bread is then smeared with a thick coating of strong tomato paste before being topped (or filled) with olives, tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and the optional arjoli (also known as ardiniera in its basic version).
Take a diversion and eat lunch or supper at the Farmer’s Bar in ebbieg, on the route between Mgarr and the Golden Bay if you have a vehicle. Traditional Maltese cuisine is available in a casual setting at reasonable rates (less than 10€ per person). If you wish to eat rabbit (fenek), make a reservation in advance, and keep in mind that one dish for three easily feeds four people. Arrive early (at 12 p.m. for lunch and 19 p.m. for supper) or make do with what’s left in the kitchen.
Drinks in Malta
Kinnie, a non-alcoholic fizzy drink created from bitter oranges (called “Chinotto oranges”) and somewhat evocative of Martini, is a characteristic soft drink that originated in Malta.
Cisk (pronounced “Chisk”) is the local beer, and it is extremely cheaply priced for a premium lager (4.2 percent by volume) by UK standards. It has a distinct sweeter flavor than other European lagers and is definitely worth a try. Blue Label Ale, Hopleaf, 1565, Lacto (“milk stout”), and Shandy are other local beers brewed by the same business that makes Cisk (a typical British mixture pre-mixture of equal measures of lager and 7-UP). Other beers, such as ‘1565,’ made and bottled at Malta’s Lowenbrau brewery, have been developed in direct rivalry with Cisk. Since late 2006, another beer named “Caqnu” has been available on the market, manufactured by a separate firm. Many beers, including Carlsberg, Lowenbrau, SKOL, Bavaria, Guinness, Murphy’s stout and ale, Kilkenny, John Smith’s, Budweiser, Becks, Heineken, Efes, and others, are imported from other countries or produced under license in Malta.
Although Malta has two indigenous grape types, Girgentina and ellewza, the majority of Maltese wine is produced from imported vineyards. Maltese wines produced directly from grapes are usually of excellent quality, with Marsovin and Delicata being notable examples, and reasonably priced, with prices ranging from 60-95ct per bottle. Both vineyards also produce quality wines that have received many international awards. There are also many amateurs who produce wine in their spare time, which may occasionally be obtained in local stores and restaurants, particularly in Mgarr and Siiewi. Meridiana premium wines are an outstanding illustration of the devotion that can be found in local vineyards.
Paceville (pronounced “pach-a-vil”), located north of St. Julian’s, is the major Maltese nightlife area. Young Maltese (as young as high school age) travel from all over the island to party, thus it becomes extremely crowded here, particularly on weekends (also somewhat on Wednesdays, for midweek drinking sessions). Almost all of the pubs and clubs are free to enter, so you may go from one to the next until you discover something that appeals to you. Paceville is definitely worth a visit because of the lively environment, inexpensive drinks, and absence of cover charges. The nightlife population ages somewhat after midnight, when most of the young people board buses returning to their hometowns to meet curfew. Paceville is still open into the early hours of the morning, particularly on weekends.
Surprisingly, Malta does not get much rain, and nearly all of the drinking water is taken from the sea through huge desalination facilities on the west coast of the island, or from an underground aquifer.