The island of Malta has had many kings and suzerains. This green and beautiful island benefits today from the Italians’ passion for life, Mediterranean refinement, exotic Arabic culture and the Brits’ open-hearted lifestyle. As for cuisine, tradition and modernism meet here in perfect combination.
Traditional Maltese cuisine is perceived as the so-called Cucina Povera, or 'the cuisine of the poor man'. Based on Italian influences and enriched by Arabic spices and techniques, it is delicate and fresh. British influence is also felt and is quite strong. Small traditional pubs and restaurants ? just like the ones in Chelsea some 50 years ago ? can be still found in Malta today.
Soups in Malta are prepared with herbs and fresh vegetables. They are light, which is essential in the Mediterranean climate. A fine example is the Aljota, a delightful fish soup prepared with garlic, herbs and tomatoes. A more nutritious option is the Kusksu. It's a traditional Maltese version of a broad bean pasta soup.
Italians introduced pasta and Arabs brought rice. Today these two are among the most popular ingredients of traditional meals on the island. When visiting Malta you should not miss the famous ‘baked macaroni’, or Mqarrun il-Forn, or the many versions of ravioli.
Meat is the base of many traditional meals. In general, lighter types of meat are preferred. Typical Maltese meat is rabbit, which is prepared with vegetables, fruit, spices and herbs. One of the most famous recipes for rabbit is fenkata. Beef is also commonly served and it's especially tasty in Bragjoli – ‘beef olives’.
It isn’t surprising that on an island fish and seafood is quite often served in restaurants and in markets. It is recommended to try some local seafood dishes as you can always count on freshly caught products that are perfectly prepared. A typical course includes the dolphin fish. Swordfish is also served in many restaurants.
Maltese cuisine features many vegetable-based meals, salads and fruit desserts. It's also famous for some amazing pastries. The imquaret – a date-filled deep fried pastry, for instance, is almost emblematic of the island.
Eating out in Malta is affordable but finding a good restaurant and the exact kind of food you would like is not always easy. Due to various influences that the island has absorbed throughout the centuries, there are as many kinds of eateries as there are foreign words in the Maltese language. There are a variety of British pubs, Italian restaurants, taverns, small or exquisite restaurants located on the island. If you are willing to taste local cuisine – search well for the right place. Traditional Cucina Povera is still served today and it's prepared in a truly fantastic way.