The Food and Cookery of Malta and Gozo
Helen Caruana Galizia with photography by Darrin Zammit Lupi
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We all love to eat. Now, as in the past, what we can eat and who we choose to eat with depends on where we live and where we are in our society. Mediterranean people have always had the olive and the grape as a basis for their cooking. To these they have added such ingredients and spices as conquerors or traders have brought with them.
The Food and Cookery of Malta and Gozo by Helen Caruana Galizia is a new edition of The Food and Cookery of Malta co-authored by Anne and Helen Caruana Galizia which was originally published by Prospect Books in 1997, re-edited in 1999 and ran into yet another three reprints. It is important to point out that this book is not simply 'another' cookery book of Maltese dishes, but also a vivid description of the rapid changes in nutrition and food fashions.
The author, although very conscious of changing circumstances, influences, and developments in the culinary arts, tries hard and succeeds in providing us with the original Maltese recipes. While waves of different foods keep hitting us and our eating habits keep changing, this book does not shy away from the new culinary trends including vegetarian recipes. Of course it neither forgets the ‘traditional Maltese dishes’ that, above anything else, valued meat-eating, and which the Maltese migrants took with them beyond the shores of Mediterranean Malta. An example of an alternative recipe for vegetarians is imqarrun il-forn (baked macaroni) cooked with aubergines instead of minced meat. The author includes a chapter on ’Vegetarianism and the Maltese Diet’ and holds that the Maltese diet has always relied heavily on vegetables and makes good use of them throughout the seasons.
New trends, however, may have moved us away from what used to be considered as traditional Maltese foods, and are fast becoming part of our allegedly healthier lifestyle. High-fibre diets, organic foods and biological foods, all masquerade as an integral part of ‘healthy’ eating.
Caruana Galizia also looks into important environmental issues such as overfishing, especially of the bluefin tuna, the introduction of new parasites from Asia and elsewhere, genetically modified products and their impact on our health, air pollution, the alarming decline in the bee population and the emergence of environmental groups. Zero kilometres remind us of the environmental cost of transporting food from far away thus she emphasizes the importance of making the most of local fruit and vegetables in season. Tastes have never been governed solely by nutrition. On the contrary, nutrition plays only a small part in the choice of our food. All cultures go to great lengths in choosing their preferred foods, and very often, ignore valuable food sources close at hand. People will not eat just anything, whatever the circumstances.
Professor Carmel Cassar, Programme for Mediterranean Culinary Culture, University of Malta
Malta: a Mediterranean cuisine of hidden depths that sparkles with influences from all points of the compass.
Tom Jaine, Food historian and Editor of the Oxford Companion to Food
Unmistakably authentic and a work of real interest.
Elizabeth David, England’s greatest modern food writer
I have used the Caruana Galizia recipes all my life as did my mother before me. This delightful new compilation of Maltese recipes will ensure that the island’s best culinary traditions are passed on to the next generation thus safeguarding an essential part of our rich Mediterranean heritage.
Simone Mizzi, Former Executive President, Din l-Art Ħelwa, National Trust of Malta
… the surprising conclusion to be drawn from this intensely researched work … is that it is the last piece in the jigsaw that is the Mediterrranean diet.
Michael Bateman, Independent on Sunday, London