2023 - A New Year
I hope that you all enjoyed a good Christmas and New Year, and that your liver is now starting to recover from the large amount of alcohol that it may have received over the festive period, and is now thanking you that it only has to wait another 12 months before you subject it to more abuse.
My Christmas and New Year was very quiet. I went to a local restaurant on Christmas Day to enjoy a very good 3 course dinner, with a glass or three of a very palatable red wine. When it came to paying the bill, which was a very reasonable UK equivalent of around 35 pounds including drinks, I was asked whether I would like ‘something on the house’. I said a new doorbell, but I don’t think that was quite the answer they were looking for. New Years Eve was spent watching the inevitable firework display from my balcony, which the Maltese people love……not my balcony, but the fireworks.
To ease you gently into the New Year, I have made this newsletter deliberately short so I will tell you about a couple of sweet things that the people of Malta enjoy.
Malta has been involved in the production of honey for a long time. The word ‘Malta’ comes from the Greek word for honey which is ‘Melitos’. You may be thinking that this doesn’t make any sense, but you have to bring the Romans into the equation. They referred to Malta as ‘Melita’, so you can see that although the difference between the Greek and Roman words is quite subtle, it is very similar.
The climate of Malta is ideal for the production of honey because of the very mild winters, and the most famous part of Malta for production, is where I live in Mellieha. Although the number of beekeepers has dropped, there seems now, to be a slight increase in numbers.
Each season has its own type of honey, which is dependant on the type of flowers in bloom at the time. Spring is known for the production of clover honey, in summer, thyme honey, and in the autumn, carob honey. Each variety has its own fragrance and colour, and I have to say that I have tasted them all, and they are very good and also taste very different from each other.
Another favourite with the Maltese. A typical bar of nougat consists of a mixture of nuts, honey and raisins. Every nougat maker has his or her own recipe which is a closely guarded secret, known only to the others in the nougat ‘factory’. All of the nougat makers inherit their trade and skills from their fathers and grandfathers.
Nougat is sold in the villages where a feast may be being celebrated, as the Maltese people are very astute when it comes to finding a place where they can make money. I am not saying that in a demeaning way, but they seem to know where the potential place to make money is. The nougat stalls at festivals usually have two stalls. One which sells the actual product and another which will have ‘tasters’ on a plate, where passers by can try the nougat, and it is mostly tourists who are the most willing to try it and will buy it to take home.
These nougat stalls with all their individual characters add atmosphere in the streets or squares where they have been set up.
Sign of the week