Malta, a cultural crossroads and ‘Go Slow Gozo’

“Inhabited since 5,000BC and located at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, Malta boasts a unique cuisine that is as eclectic as its fascinating history”, writes journalist Lucy Gillmore. Lucy and I travelled to Malta, and its smaller sister island Gozo on an assignment for Food and Travel magazine.

Historically, many different nationalities have occupied Maltese soil, and as a result both the language and the gastronomy have taken on a real mixed bag of influences, from Mediterranean to North African. Rabbit is the unofficial national dish, fried in garlic or cooked in tomato sauce and served with pasta. The goats cheese is delicious, and the dark carob syrup that finds its way into both savoury and sweet dishes is divine. There’s rosewater flavoured desserts, candied peel and nougat for those with a sweet tooth. And this is all served against a backdrop of sandstone-walled cities and villages rich with 7000 years of history, and stunning rugged coastline with blue waters.

Gozo (the Castillian word for joy) is Malta’s sleepier, more tranquil neighbour where the Maltese go to relax and unwind. With its lush landscape and warm climate, it is also the home to producers of a wide variety of quality food – cheese, fruits, olive oil, wine, honey, preserves, and sea salt dried in stone salt-pans that date back to the mid 19th century (see top 2 images below).

Its a foodies’ paradise…in fact it’s just paradise!

The articles on Malta, its capital Valletta (Europe’s smallest capital city), and Gozo are all published in the 150th Special issue of Food and Travel magazine (October 2012), out now.