Gozo is the middle sized island of Malta’s three and one of the traditional Gozitan meals is a ftira which consists of anchovies (or tuna), olives, garlic, capers, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, salt & pepper on a crust, a little like a pizza, but so much better. The great thing I found about the ftira was it wasn’t served with cheese, so it was easy to order ftira without anchovies, to satisfy my way of eating.
Having been to Malta previously this was one of the foods that I was looking forward to. However, like last time, when you order ftira you’re never really sure what you are going to get. Sometimes we got the pizza style and sometimes the sandwich variety. The two rolls in the photos below were from the same place, Stephen’s in Zaghra (pronounced Shara). Gozo has great bread, so both of the rolls were really tasty. Stephen actually made it in front of me, adding the ingredients I wanted, so I had conserva (a tomato spread) and marinated veggies – eggplant, capsicum, onion, marrow and olives. The second time I added some rucola and mushrooms.
Fruit and Veg
My favourite thing to eat is fruit and vegetables (and sometimes it’s chocolate). Gozo has a lot of market gardens, and it’s something that early Maltese immigrants did when they came to Australia. Vegetables, in particular, are really cheap compared to what we pay in Australia. But it’s all relative, because they earn a lot less too. Fresh fruit and vegetables play a big part in Maltese meals, along with bread, cheese, pasta and meat.
When I bought the apples from the fruit and veg van I was told that they were local apples, which I thought was odd because of the climate. Taking a bite they took me back to apples I use to eat when I was young, the soft textured flesh rather than the hard crisp flesh we have today.
When you’re eating out every day for weeks you start to crave just the simple fruit and veg. We found a farmers’ market one day and there was nothing more delicious than a bag of cherry tomatoes to snack on … and a watermelon!
The stuff you eat between meals
So what did we snack on?
Even when we weren’t hungry!
Pastizzi are a favourite of mine. You can purchase them in Australia, but the authentic ones are so much more … authentic. Be careful how you say the word because it can have multiple meanings. (Check out the link to wikipedia if you want to know the other meanings.) I eat the pea version, but there is also a ricotta. They also make Qassatat, which is similar to the pastizzi, although it has different pastry.
Like other areas in the Mediterranean lemon sorbet is popular. As are treacle rings, which look like they have dates in them but it’s actually golden syrup.
One thing I did try which is not traditional Maltese food is deep fried Oreos. I’ve never had a deep-fried mars bar but I’m guessing it’s a similar kind of thing.
Jessica’s Delights is a cake shop open in Marsalforn over the summer, and it’s the place to visit. They have lots of cakes filled with cream, eggs and butter, so I went in and asked if they had anything without all of that, and the 2 things were apple pie and soy milk ice cream. I went with the apple pie and I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out when everyone else was gorging on their animal filled cakes.
Ice cream! Before leaving Australia I found out about SottoZero. A gelato factory in Bugibba, Malta, right where we would be staying! Think about your local ice cream shop. If it’s like mine they have 2 cabinets of ice creams and maybe one tub of non-dairy ice cream. Well, SottoZero has 2 cabinets and 1 WHOLE cabinet is for non-dairy ice cream – either rice milk (the majority) or soy milk. AND, some of their rice milk ice cream is sugar free. That’s worth the flight there on it’s own!
So many stories, so much food.