Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean, based on fresh, seasonal, locally available produce and seafood; with its main influence from Italian cuisine, particularly Sicily and the south. However it also embodies the gastronomic legacies of Malta's past, including not only Italian, but Spanish, Moorish, and more recently British influence.
Although many vegetables and fruit are grown locally all year round, the average Maltese housewife takes advantage of seasonal gluts to stock up and feed her family economically. There are many unique and distinctive local dishes such as stews and stuffed dishes like “Bragioli” (beef olives) and stuffed squid. Due to the lack of fire-wood ovens in centuries past, a slow cooking method was used to prepare most Maltese dishes. Food was placed in earthenware pots over a little stone hearth called "kenur" which needed constant tending and fanning. Subsequently, slow simmering became something of the hallmark of many Maltese dishes and despite the introduction of gas and electric cookers, slow cooking is still the housewife's favourite.
Other local classics include “Patizzi”, flaky pastry filled with cheese or vegetables, which make for an excellent cheap snack at anytime of the day and found all over the island. Lampuki Pie, a pie made with local Dorado fish and vegetables, is also one of the country's best loved dishes. “Aljotta” is a famous fish soup with marjoram, tomatoes, garlic and rice.
Maltese bread is known as something of an institution in itself. Traditionally the bread is made from sour dough, left over from the previous day, and is renowned for being crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Pastry is also used a lot in both savoury and sweet forms, and tarts, pies and sweet pastries are all eaten on a regular basis. Sweets are an integral part of Maltese dining. Nougat is popular and can be found sold by street merchants at the village festas. Macaroons and the Italian influenced dessert cannoli - fried pastry rolled up and filled with ricotta and either chocolate chips or fruit are also a commonly found dessert
Wine in Malta is inexpensive and of very good quality with a range of endemic grapes. There is a constant growing demand for Maltese wines and some of the wineries resort to using imported grapes because agricultural areas are severely limited on the islands by the growth of settlements and tourism.
An abundance of top quality restaurants bless the islands and cater for a vast range of budgets and tastes.
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