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… is for May. It is, after all, the May issue. Today is May the seventh, tomorrow is May, so was yesterday, and May is today too. Every day from this point to the thirty-first is a May day. Mayday. M’aidez.
Beyond that, we’ve written about the bridge between food and respect; the way our food can dis/respect the planet, or dis/respect each other. Do we respect our bartenders? How can we respect the mouths that eat and the hands that feed? Is Mother’s Day about respect, is it even really Mother’s Day?
To be featured this month? Besides peeks into Australian food culture and some of the coolest places to go to during Milan’s design week (courtesy of Sandra Abela and Bailey Lalonde, respectively) we also take looks at capers and beans (caper buds and ful, to be precise) which are coming into season.
If that sounds too heavy, take a load off and read about chutney (with chutney-lover Fran Borg Costanzi), try out the recipe for traditional Soppa ta’ l-Armla, and read about our very own local ġbejna industry (with Victoria Galea, who asks a few important questions about local cheeses).
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Executive editor Jamie Iain Genovese (email@example.com) Publisher Allied Newspapers Ltd. Printing Progress Press Co. Ltd. Production Allied Newspapers Ltd. Design Krista Aquilina Advertising Sales Marisa Schembri (tel: 2559 4216; firstname.lastname@example.org)
LOCAL 5 RELISHING CHUTNEY
On a stressful weekday in the midst of our temperamental climate, I decided to dine at one of those trendy gastropubs that seem to be materialising out of
thin air nowadays.
A CONVENT COOK
How often do we only see cooking as, say, a chore to do at home or a thing to attempt with friends, a service in a restaurant, maybe even a semi-instructional event to
watch on television?
They’re in full swing aren’t they? The adverts. The pop ups. The call on the unsuspecting to treat their mothers to lunch. Never felt the call to motherhood? Not a problem. Eat out anyway this Sunday.
SMALL CHEESE, BIG TRADITION
Thousands of cheeses exist world-wide. It is amazing how three essential ingredients – milk, salt and acid –
can produce such a variety of cheese.
A REGULAR SUMMER CAPER
I’m not much for sunny days, my eyes get all squinty, any layers are too many layers, the ground reflects light during any time of day, and if I want a cloudier kind of day for pictures, well, I’m sadly out of luck. 2 CIBUS | MAY 2017
RECIPES 10 FICTIONALIST’S GUIDE: RECIPE
– THE RAT’S COLA-DOUSED-PANCAKES
In what must be the simplest recipe in fiction, we have pancakes
with coke, served up in Haruki Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: IT’S A SOUP
There are merry widows and black widows. But there are also the widows of the past, the widows of delightful culinary
renown. Well, at least the dish that bears their name is.
FEATURES 28 MILANO DESIGN WEEK
Salone Del Mobile Milano draws a crowd from all over the world, to this Italian epicenter of classic and contemporary design. Want to find that hidden gem, you have been
NECESSITY AS THE SAYING GOES,
IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Or at least it used to be, before advertising came along and turned the whole thing around, making it possible to start
with the invention and worry about the necessity for it later.
People often ask me what food is like in Australia and the funny part is I never really gave Aussie food a second thought
until I left its shores for good to relocate to sunny Malta.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE BARTENDERS
People love alcohol, they love cocktails, drinks,
drinking, drinking culture
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS
Where do the fields of gastronomy, craft and sustainability meet?
CIBUS | MAY 2017
Chutney! WORDS BY
Fran Borg Costanzi
n a stressful weekday in the midst of our temperamental climate, i decided to dine at one of those trendy gastropubs that seem to be materialising out of thin air nowadays. i ordered a delicious sandwich that was second to none. the waitress who delivered the nectarous meal then inquired the following: “Would you like ketchup or mayonnaise with that?”. this upset me. While both the two aforementioned dressings are great additions to a dish, my taste buds yearned for something zesty, something tangy but not in an overwhelming way. What is it that encapsulates exactly those qualities, you might ask? Chutney!
the word ‘chutney’ is an anglicised version of the Hindi word chatnī which means ‘to lick’. that should give you an idea of its scrumptiousness. Chutney is glorious and extremely underrated. it is to the condiment world what nurses are to the medical world. For those who are not acquainted with this aromatic delectable relish, the simplest way to make chutney is through the process of simmering sugar, vinegar and a fruit/vegetable until they form a thick syrup with the softened fruit immersed in the glistening viscous liquid like they’ve just been through a sticky baptism of flavour.
it all started with a Christmas hamper. i was expecting it to be another run-of-the-mill cheese and wine assortment but in the midst of all the dairy and bottled fermented grape juice was a tiny jar of apple and cranberry chutney. Like a video of a puppy trying to climb stairs for the first time, it stole my heart. the first taste of that saccharine yet fiery, fragrant confiture made me rue the fact that i’d never invested in some before. since then, i’ve made sure that i always have a reserve supply tucked away in a cupboard for a rainy day.
Chutney originated in india where, historically, it was only eaten on special occasions or by the rich (the reverence of this packaged ambrosia should have prevailed, methinks, but whatever). it was first imported to England and France in the late 1600s and served as a template for later versions that were better suited to the palates of their Western consumer, meaning that they were made milder and sweeter because us Westerners are basically a bunch of weaklings.
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there are a few kinds of chutney that are particularly delicious and worth the time they take to make. Even some of the most common ones are gold. apple chutney is a fine example. this taste explosion goes perfectly with a juicy pork chop or a very rich piece of cheese. the combination of sweet apples, pungent ginger and the spiciness of the cinnamon and nutmeg makes for a surprisingly well put together piquancy. its thick, chunky consistency creates an intriguing contrast to the tauter pork or cheese. one of my favourite chutneys that is undeservedly not very common is sweet potato chutney. You might not be able to find it on the shelves of a store but it doesn’t take long at all to make. sweet potatoes are known to boost the immune system due to their high iron content so this would be the optimal time of year to get cooking, with it being flu season and all. they also contain magnesium which is an anti-stress mineral. With exams and deadlines looming, stress relief is right at the top of my list of needs along with oxygen and water. this chutney’s main ingredients are sweet potatoes, chillies, tamarind and coconut—so there’s an infusion of sweet, sour and spicy that makes it ideal with bread or even with a simple bowl of rice. in my case, i have a habit of sitting in front of the tV after a long day with a bag of galletti, an
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ample bowl of sweet potato chutney and bottomless pit of a stomach to accommodate the two and i can shamelessly admit that it’s a great way to spend an evening alone. a baguette filled with just a slab of mature cheddar and a thick layer of red onion chutney is just the ticket when you’ve not enough time to make something elaborate in the morning. some mango chutney added to a simple ham and cheese sandwich can give it an interesting twist if you enjoy a sweet, slightly peppery taste. and you can’t help but seem supremely fancy if you serve a little tub of tomato chutney with a cheese or meat platter when having friends over. Chutney is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans too so nobody loses out! there really isn’t a downside to this. the list of pros goes on and on. so now it’s just an issue of going out and buying some as soon as possible. Even the former editor-in-chief of Vogue, the late Diana Vreeland once said, “Chutney is marvellous. I’m mad about it. To me, it’s very imperial.” see? it’s a shared opinion. i rest my case. Chutney is great. is that enough of a reason to get on the chutney train? i think so. this isn’t an advert or business pitch. i don’t get any commission for promoting chutney. it’s just getting the publicity it deserves. it’s that good.
Coca-Cola’s one brand strategy unveiled in Malta
A STRATEGY WITH CHOICE AT HEART Coca-Cola’s new “One Brand” global marketing strategy, that uses one visual identity system featuring Coca-Cola Red as a unifying colour, was unveiled today by GSD Marketing Ltd, official bottlers and distributors of Coca-Cola products in Malta. The new Coca-Cola visual identity was launched by GSD Marketing Ltd Chief Operating Officer, Ms Maria Micallef, and GSD Marketing Ltd General Manager, Mr Brian Galea, to the company’s clients, media and employees during a series of events held at General Soft Drinks which saw the bottling plant serve as a backdrop for the one visual identity system. The new identity is designed to enable consumers to choose the Coca-Cola beverage that best suits their taste, lifestyle and diet. The Red Disc, the signature element of the new “Taste the Feeling” global campaign, appears prominently on the packaging underscoring the company’s commitment to provide choice. To clearly identify each product, the signature colour is featured throughout the packs with black for Zero, silver for Light and Diet and green for Life. Announcing the new strategy, GSD Marketing Ltd Sales and Marketing Senior Manager, Martin Agius, said that Coca-Cola is one of the most-loved brands in the world. “But the world is changing and today we are providing our consumers a way to keep enjoying the brand they love by simply choosing the Coke that fits their tastes and lifestyles. This is a powerful reinforcement of our commitment to make our low and no-calorie Coca-Cola products more accessible and appealing while making it easier for consumers to make informed choices.” The new packaging will also include the unique product name and benefits on front of pack to help consumers make an informed choice: • • • •
Coca-Cola original taste Coca-Cola Diet: unique taste, no calories Coca-Cola Zero: zero sugar, zero calories Coca-Cola Life: 36% less sugar, with stevia leaf extract
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THE RAT’S COLADOUSED-PANCAKES WORDS AND PHOTO BY
jamie iain genovese
Rat’s favourite food was pancakes, hot off the griddle. He would stack several in a deep dish, cut them into four neat pieces, then pour a bottle of Coke over the top. The first time I visited the Rat’s home, he had pulled a table out into the balmy May sunlight and was hard at work shovelling this concoction into his mouth. “This meal’s outstanding feature,” he said, “is the perfect way it blends solid food and drink.”
Pour and mix the f lour into a bowl, dig out a little foxhole in the middle. Done? Great, now add the eggs and the oil, pour them into that hole like a gooey little puddle. Chuck some 50ml (2 tablespoons or so) of milk. Start whisking in that hole, adding in some f lour slowly like a little sinkhole, slowly letting the f lour mix into that goo-pit. Keep whisking f lour in and slowly adding milk It won’t be super pasty, and a little runny. Do not be too worried. Let it stand for like half an hour, you can probably read the first eight or so chapters of Hear the Word Sing. Fifteen if you’re a bit faster. Get annoyed at me for that unnecessary step, but reading is good for you. Time for heat, specifically the pan. Add the butter. This is what controls the thickness, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much you’re going to add. The batter, let it cook below the surface and be firm below, and a little adrift on the surface. Much like a Murakami novel. At this point, we’ll have to introduce a plot twist and f lip it upside down. Get the deep dish, and start adding the pancakes. Pour, gently or not, and prepare yourself for the both-mealand-drink cola pancakes. Try it out, and I really do recommend reading as well. Maybe it will help you understand Rat’s character. He’s a strange one..
encountered my first murakami novel while supposedly studying at the g.F. abela junior College. i stumbled upon A Wild Sheep Chase and binge-read the book in all my free lessons for two days, the kind of binge reading where you take your time and savour each page. i found his prose refreshing, a style that painted a distinct sense of both drifting and direction. To a youth, with tastes for jazz and dry, hard-boiled punch lines. i can see why people might dislike his writing, but i can also see why people love it — its strengths have been its weaknesses and vice versa. in a novel written by Haruki murakami you’re bound to find men that experience deep loneliness or ennui (as overused a term as that has become), references to vinyl jazz/rock/classical music records, mysterious cats, the breaking down of sex as a motor engine in society, and cooking sequences.
cola, he insisted it made them so much better but i couldn’t really tell, i imagine the heat made most of it evaporate and leave a very mild sweetness that even my young palate couldn’t pick up.
one of the more befuddling recipes comes from the last novel of his that i read, his first if i’m not mistaken, the one i mentioned in the first line: The Rat’s eccentric meal is exactly the sort of thing a child would find clever, it reminds me of how once, when i was twelve, a school friend and i were grilling burgers cooked in coca
i suspect, however, that this is different, given that we would be pouring the cola onto the pancakes after they’re cooked. should i be trying to sell this to you? no, probably not. But, in my experience, we don’t need much encouragement to try sweet things that aren’t too good for us.
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RECIPE MAKING THE PANCAKES INGREDIENTS Tbsp of sunf lower oil 100g of Flour 300ml or so of milk (get the full-fat stuff) 2 eggs Butter. Enough to fry nicely with Salt A deep dish for serving
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WORDS AND PHOTOS BY
jamie iain genovese
ooking, essentially, is a service; earthly bounties rearranged and done with to serve our stomachs, stewed, seared, sautéed, brewed by the blessed hands that made the food, and served up to feed ourselves; sometimes others. There’s a reason drink and food is so often lumped in with hospitality, so much so that the word conjures hotel and restaurant imagery. But cooking is more than that, and seeing how people are served is a way to make food just that little bit more interesting. so here i am at the Dominican Convent in Birgu with Rita sciluna, their current cook, in their airy and light-flooded kitchen, a couple of feet away from the open courtyard. a well-supplied and designed kitchen with stainless steel surfaces and a healthily stocked pantry, it’s hard not to feel that it’s a decent place to whip up a meal.
I really like this work, you really feel included and close, like family
i asked her how long she’s been working here. “Two years,” she replied, “not a lot, is it? But it’s always been a dream of mine, to work like this with nuns or priests.” How exactly does one get into that, anyway? after having been a care provider for an elderly person that has since; sadly, passed away; Rita scicluna was looking to work; telling me that one can only stay at home for so long. still, what do you do to go from unemployed to cooking for the Dominicans? CIBUS | may 2017 13
“It might only be for five people most of the time, but “A bit of a coincidence, really. My neighbour when you have to make different things to suit everyone asked me to ask my husband’s nephew if he I enjoy it, meeting with it feels like a whole lot more, and it can be hard keeping wanted to take the job, since he’s studying to someone like the everything on track so everything is finished on time.” be a chef, but he was already working Archbishop face-tosomewhere else. So, I asked, ‘why don’t I do face, then having them Sometimes, however, she actually does have to cook for it?’, which surprised my neighbour and she eat your food. more. Between the coffee mornings; events; hosting of asked if I had ever done work like this before,” arch/bishops from either Malta or, such as the case with a smile that I can only assume is the same recently, Albania; and the hosting of others during the one she gave her neighbour, she said “Mhux local feast…you can begin to see how demanding a task that can tipprova trid?”, which is basically a Maltese way of saying ‘we won’t be for a single cook. It’s not unusual to end up cooking for thirty know until we try’—a can-do attitude if I ever saw one. people, and not the usual five, which is altogether quite possibly a difficult thing to do if you’re not used to it. So, how’s it going so far, anyway? “I really like this work, you really feel included and close, like family.” Still, it can be rewarding as well. Of course, anyone that knows family knows that family doesn’t mean “I enjoy it, meeting with someone like the Archbishop face-toeasy. Besides having to come in from Monday to Saturday (and the face, then having them eat your food. And hearing them occasional Sunday should the need arise), there’s also the extra compliment the food or thank you is the best. I don’t do it for the challenge of preparing meal to suit everyone’s diets, which means thanks, but I’d be glad that they liked my food.” either restricting the menu to a minimalist tedium, or cooking different dishes for different people. What did Rita opt for? 14 CIBUS | may 2017
All the while this interview was taking place, Rita was preparing a couple of different pies, one with ricotta, another pie a touch lighter for one of the other priests, not to mention a large bowl of calamari stuffed with ricotta (not a touch of fish or red sauce, which is how I have always personally had the dish), which was admittedly a first time for Rita (so we were in the same boat, more or less, it seems). ‘Bountiful’ springs to mind. Throughout watching her prep the meal and answer my questions some of the priests would come in and engage in some light banter, make a cup of tea, or both. To say that there was a jovial atmosphere would be understating it. There weren’t all that many questions for me to ask, and it’s hard to put into words what it is that would make someone cook for a convent, per se. Maybe words will write themselves if I had to go around different convents, asking different cooks how it is that they came to do what they do. ‘Mhux tipprova trid?’ For now, though, it was enough to be able to see what it’s like to have someone come to a place and make it feel a bit more like a home. Someone that was once a stranger to become respected and dignified within the walls of the Dominican convent. It might seem obvious, or of no great significance. But then I remember all the instances in my life when I’ve seen waiting staff disrespected, kitchens disparaged on social media, the talents of chefs squandered for profit, and taken lightly in the various comments sections online. But here, in this light and airy kitchen, I saw a woman cooking and smiling to herself, hoping those that would eat her food would be pleased, I saw banter between her and her clergy, and I saw kindness. And so, Rita announced, lunch was served, all were served.
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hey’re in full swing aren’t they? The adverts. The pop ups. The call on the unsuspecting to treat their mothers to lunch. Never felt the call to motherhood? Not a problem. Eat out anyway this Sunday. You deserve it. And so the restaurants are crammed with extended families on set menus or that Maltese favourite: buffet, aka stuff your plates and your faces and your bags (I’ve witnessed it) because you’ve paid for it, haven’t you? Deposits are made, high chairs wiped down and toddlers run amok. But of course. Celebrating Mother’s Day without the reason for the celebration would be unthinkable. But I still think celebrating it with dozens of other mothers’ offspring is stretching it a bit. Not to mention the fact that on days like this, these children seem to be determined to display a delinquent bend, even at this tender age of two. They are making the most of the fact that were it not for them, their mothers probably wouldn’t even be lunching out today. You just have to close your eyes for a moment and thank heaven that in a couple of decades’ time, (if they’re lucky), on the scene of the crime, their DNA will never be traced back to you (note to ed: I know that’s not how it works... I’m exercising scientific licence here). This is closely followed by the thought that those who came up with the idea of Mother’s day, never thought it would turn into this.
But maudlin thoughts are not allowed, unless they too are orchestrated and marked somberly in some other collective effort in a remembrance Mass or wreathe laying ceremony. So slap on that smile and join in and be grateful. After all, we are doing this for you. The ‘best mother in the world’ shouldn’t be this ungracious.
In fact, it is reported that Anna Jarvis, to whom this latter day celebration is attributed, was vociferous against the manner in which this day was eventually commercialised; a day which had been intended to be an occasion to set aside some time to nurture the personal relationship of mother and child, a private celebration rather than a mass activity of exhausting proportions.
Method two: booked lunch with the extended family, and all the other extended families with the same thought, at a restaurant of their choice. For the pitfalls, see opening paragraph. Once again, smile through the day. What do you mean you’re tired? You didn’t even have to cook today.
For make no mistake about it. It is exhausting. The ritual, the fête en masse, the obligatory selfies, the hijacking of social media, and the inevitable strain of living up to the title of the best mother in the world, as all the Facebook posts claim. And of course the sad note, the thoughts of mothers departed, the thoughts on what one might have been done better, the thoughts of mothers of angels, the mothers in thought, who, despite the cheesiness, nonetheless wish they could take that selfie too. 18 CIBUS | may 2017
So, based on the premise that it is mother who runs the kitchen and therefore mother needs at least one day off a year from it, (let’s not have that debate here and now please, it’s not the place for it), how do families go about ensuring this happens? Method one: breakfast in bed with over excited chidren hopping onto the bed at the crack of dawn. Yes, the sleep deprived mother can’t wait to give up her Sunday sleep-in (all other circumstances permitting) to be force fed scrambled eggs, bacon and beans, and eat it up quickly before the wobbly breakfast tray flips over as the children have a go at each other, dangerously close to the said tray. Ah the sweet sound of bickering in lieu of the birds’ morning song. Aren’t they adorable?
Method three: take out. A touch slap dash as a method. Especially if once again the choice of menu is based on the wish of the majority, rather than the mother. Oh and needless to say, expecting her to pick it up is not on, no matter who else is paying. Or making the order. (Yes. It’s Mother’s day, so you should be the one making the order. She probably has a note listing what you normally take, anyway, tucked away inside the take-out menu. Couldn’t be simpler. The menu? It’s in the drawer. Where it always is. As is the phone. Yes, that’s the one. No. Wait. The other
one. That place had closed down. It IS there. Oh just move over and let her do it.) Method four: hijacked kitchen as a surprise lunch is whipped up by the other family members, after they pick an easily executed recipe from Cibus. Sweet. This is probably the closest to an intimate celebration of quality time en famille. The sanest, too, that is, if you can consciously shut out the worrying sound of breakage and spillage and the occasional muffled thud-and-curse routine. This method, of course, will instantly turn belly up if it is not accompanied by an adequate clean-up. The use of the word ‘adequate’ here is deliberate. Mother will still be prising dried up pasta bits from awkward nooks and crannies in weeks to come. But on the face of it, at least, washing up and wiping down is a minimum requirement. Just don’t burn the bottom off her favourite pan. And, on pain of death, do NOT place the hot pot directly onto the kitchen surface. Not that dish cloth you dummy. And you’ll need a bigger plate for that. (At this point it might be advisable to forcibly remove the guest of honour from the operations centre. A poured drink might even ease the tension.) Method five: foolproof; guaranteed to work. Mothers, relax (it’s in the dictionary, look it up). Turn a blind eye. It was never meant to be a perfectly coreographed, Hallmark quality event. Enjoy it, mishaps and all. Savour the moment. It will never be the quality of the food that you will remember. It’s the moments of warmth and hilarity, mishaps and all. And for these creatures who are trying their hardest to prove to you that they are not as hapless as you make them out to be, you really are the best mother in the world, despite your firm affirmations that you’re not. And right you are, of course. For there is no such thing. As there is no perfect Mother’s day. But you’re making memories. And one day, those memories will count for more than any gourmet meal. CIBUS | may 2017 19
here are merry widows and black widows. But there are also the widows of the past, the widows of delightful culinary renown. Well, at least the dish that bears their name is. From the dire straits of the less than delightful widowhood of our ancestors, (who, when their husbands’ souls departed this earthly domain before theirs, were so often left to cope without means, save for the few chickens and possibly a sheep or goat, the animals de rigeur in most back yards or courtyards), there comes a dish that is wholesome and healthy, slow but versatile. Soppa tal-Armla, lit. ‘Widow’s Soup’, owes its name to the humble origins of its ingredients: what vegetables could be had from the scraggly soil, and the daily laid egg and fresh cheeselets, made, no doubt by the widow herself from what she would have milked off goat or sheep, or from milk bought in the little tin mug off the goat herder in the street for a few coins. This was an era when the goats themselves made the door-todoor deliveries. And when no Maltese homestead, no matter how bare, would be without these staples. Like so many other things that started out in a humble fashion, the reputation of this dish remains somewhat non-glamorous, despite the fact that its freshly sourced ingredients are nowadays a tad more elevated, certainly price-wise. In a reversal of fortune, cauliflower and broad beans and the lovely fresh cheeselets that burst into soft milky pieces with flavour and handling are no longer the go-to food items when skint. Sadly, fast and processed works out to be much cheaper. And yet, in season, some broad beans, a cauliflower and a few potatoes, can simmer together slowly for hours and combine to give a soft, soothing, safe blend of flavours that is finished off sublimely with the non-vegan addition of egg and cheeselets and ricotta cheese. And all without breaking the bank. Or bringing out the blender. For this is one of those chunky soups where the ingredients are cooked on low heat long enough for them to just gently break down, and soften and merge whilst still retaining some texture. Many of these ingredients are mostly in season at this stage of spring, when the evenings are still nippy enough to warrant a nice chunky pot of spooned up wholesomeness. And when the ghost of summer future and figolli and Easter past sends us into a frenzy of healthy eating. But I’ve also served it as the soup course when entertaining nonMaltese guests. If you do that, try not to smirk at their attempts to disguise their bewilderment on learning the soup’s name. If you look closely enough, you can probably see the bemused 20 CIBUS | may 2017
It’s thoughts flickering in their eyes as they wonder what it is in the soup’s properties that turn women into widows. The husbands spoon it up gingerly, the wives with an almost undetectable wicked glint. Until they both register another alarming fact. “There is egg in this soup...” Indeed. And there’s also the thick, crusty Maltese loaf in the bread basket to go with it. For make no mistake, the soppa is a meal in itself, not for the poor widow the luxury of starter and main. And some chunks of a Maltese ħobza would have certainly stretched the soup into the meal of the day... or days.
INGREDIENTS Caulif lower (sizeable) Potatoes (one or two apiece, depending on the size) White onion Broad beans (shelled) Tomato paste (around 2 full tablespoons) 1 tsp mixed spice Eggs (one per person) Fresh cheeselets (gbejniet tal-ilma) – one per person Ricotta (250 g should suffice)
So how does one go about honouring the memory of all those men whose life expectancy always lagged a bit behind their wives’, and of all those widows, merry or otherwise, who somehow coped with the loss? Here is one version of it. But the beauty of the dish is that, like the widows before us, we can always make it up with whatever we have around. Just make sure you set the record straight with your foreign guests on the etymology of the name of the dish. When you’ve had your fun, that is. Because we Maltese do macabre well, thank you very much.
Chop up this seasonal onion and saute’ it in some olive oil with a teaspoon of that wonderful basis of all stews Maltese: mixed spice. Add the tomato paste and stir in the broad beans, and salt and pepper to taste. At this point you might need to add a bit of warm water to stop the paste from burning. Add the caulif lower f lorets and chopped potatoes (some people even add carrots, at this stage) and cover with boiling water, reducing heat to a minimum the minute it starts to boil. The soup cooks best when it is left to simmer on extremely low heat for at least a couple of hours. An earthenware pot is best for this as the liquid does not dry up. As the soup is cooking, the Maltese potatoes - of which there is usually a fresh crop this time of year (the ones where, as you peel them, you have to scrape off enough soil off them to fill a little f lower pot) - will soften and break down and serve as a thickening agent by soaking up some of the excess liquid. But make sure there is enough liquid left. Because in the last 15 minutes or so of cooking, the eggs are to be added to the pot whole, unbeaten, together with the ricotta and cheeselets, and left to cook in this liquid. Try and space them around nicely. It will look better on Instagram. When the eggs are cooked solid, the cheeselets semimelted and the ricotta blended into the rest, the soup is done. It is best left to rest for a few more minutes with the f lame off before being served up with chunks of Maltese bread to mop up the residual liquid. Trust me, you’ll throw manners out the window and want to do just that, with this meal.
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d a r i t t i o gi
WORDS BY PHOTO BY
Victoria Galea jamie iain GenoVese
housands of cheeses exist world-wide. it is amazing how three essential ingredients — milk, salt and acid — can produce such a variety of cheese. Historic records indicate that the world has been making cheese for several thousand years. it was the only way milk could be preserved over a long period of time, especially in warm climates. During the Greek, roman and egyptian era fresh and aged cheeses were already flourishing and trading was widespread. in the middle ages a number of cheeses were recorded. Diversity was further boosted as european countries developed increasing varieties. today european countries like France and italy produce hundreds of artisanal cheese varieties and a number of them have protected status. considering the long and varied history of foreign domination it is so surprising their cheese-making traditions were not absorbed into local culture. it is just as surprising that malta does not enjoy a wide variety of local cheeses.
Ġbejniet in their various forms were formerly a major staple of the humble population with many villagers producing their own. they have become an integral part of our culinary heritage and an essential element of local cuisine being used in many dishes and offered in restaurants as a delicacy. Unfortunately the cheese-making tradition is dying out despite the cheeselets popularity. oftentimes regular clients keep their suppliers’ identity a closely guarded secret due to the limited amounts of cheeselets produced and available.
It also aims to help small-cheese producers to valorise their product and ensure they have the best tools to yield a genuine product – in this case goat-milk ġbejniet
cow milk became popular under colonial rule when pasteurisation was introduced. Until then and right up to the mid-twentieth century, sheep and goats were an essential part of the local milk supply where herds where brought up to the door and milked on the spot in the street according to the needs of the housewife — even in malta’s capital city Valletta.
However, the onslaught of modernisation, diminishing goat herds, and the constantly shrinking amount of farmland has taken its toll. added to that, the dependence on imported produce, the introduction of pasteurisation and state-managed commercialmilk production was a major factor in malta and Gozo’s limited cheese industry.
in recent years, with the emphasis on agritourism and a growing interest in the maltese culinary tradition, demand for quality artisan products is growing. However rural producers are few and relatively unknown except to their immediate circle. they do not produce commercial quantities and do not have the means or interest to market their product, and it is probably more economically viable to sell all their milk production to local commercial companies.
mushrooming gourmet eateries are showing an increasing awareness of the value of local food traditions and its appeal as a touristic product has now led to the possibility of eU funding to prop a waning artisanal skill and encourage the production of maltese and Gozitan cheeselets as a feasible trade in itself.
Having said that, what little the country has is immensely popular and very versatile.
a recent eU-funded project finds malta teaming up with a number of european countries to form part of a continent-wide cheese tour in an effort to focus specifically on each region through familiarisation with the cheese it produces. it also aims to help small-cheese producers to valorise their product and ensure they have the best tools to yield a genuine product – in this case goat-milk ġbejniet.
Ġbejniet are small round ‘cheeselets’ which are available in fresh, dry or peppered form. sister island Gozo was particularly renowned for these. the ones made from goat or sheep milk are the traditional ones but the cheeselets are now also made with cows’ milk. together with fresh whole-milk ricotta, the ġbejniet are essentially the only traditional cheese that is produced nowadays at industrial level. limited though the variety of cheese may be, the cheeselets’ popularity is immense and the artisanal ones produced in tiny amounts are particularly sought-after.
although local uptake is very limited, such projects nonetheless help to create awareness on products which deserve to be recognised at a national level. there was a time when a hard peppered cheese similar to the italian pecorino was produced but that seems to have disappeared commercially. investment in national culture is essential. it always generates appreciation on a wider scale and ends up giving a return which far exceeds the financial expenditure. Ġbejniet-making is one tradition which shouldn’t be allowed to die out. CIBUS | may 2017 23
Ful me once,
shame on you...
24 CIBUS | may 2017
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Yummy sweets Make your wedding a sweet one with a sweet bar or candy cart that will not only make your guests feel like kids again, but will also brighten up the venue. Candylicious has gained a reputation for offering a lavish and unique sweet display for your wedding, birthday party and events. They can create a beautiful display in a particular theme or colour range, and you can take your pick from a rainbow of yummy sweets. Their displays are all designed with you in mind and to suit your budget â€“ something different, unique and unexpected for your guests that will make their lasting impression a sweet one.
6, St Francis Street, San Gwann SGN 2351 TEL: 2702 9117, 7745 1526 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.candyliciousmalta.com FIND US ON FACEBOOK
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MILANO DESIGN WEEK
onostante Marras, where legacy meets the most cutting edge; fantasy meets high fashion. The historic factory, turned Sardinian creative concept store is a place where one can browse the latest collections of Antonio Marras and Isola Marras, enjoy a cup of tea served in Marie Antoinette inspired china; feel at home in the world of Marras. Enter this world and sink deep into a curated space of thought provoking art that makes you feel and wonder. The famed Italian designer, artist and creative virtuoso — Antonio Marras and his international extended family create the Marras universe wherever they go. The flagship store Nonostante, which translates to ‘Despite’, is on Via 8, Cola di Rienzo, Milano, just a short walk from Naviglio Grande. Nonostante’s neighborhood is one of the hottest areas in Milano Design Week, an event which “has successfully drawn to a close with 343,602 attendees in 6 days from 165 countries” (Salone Milano, 2017). However, not everyone who parades through the city, in one of the busiest times of the year will have the fortune of finding this oasis. Those who do will experience an enchanting fairytale world that will keep a piece of their heart forever. For the duration of Salone del Mobile, not only is this space a fusion of art, fashion, literature, plant life, family, and antique furniture, but also a culinary experience. 28 CIBUS | may 2017
The courtyard space, which one first passes through when entering Nonostante, is transformed into an outdoor bistro with creative gourmet fusions for lunch as well as a selection of beverages and cafe items. The ambience is bustling with tables being first come first serve, if you find a table, it’s likely you will take your time, delving your senses into bliss. The tables are eloquently collected antiques, placed delicately around the space, surrounded by live plants, flowers, sculptures, bird cages and set with eclectic antique china and silverware. In the boutique menu, there are equally delicious vegetarian options. The Marras group, in collaboration with a team of local Italian culinary chefs, have come together to bring a top of the line culinary experience to the visitors of Milano Design Week. After enjoying a break from the hustle and bustle, in this ethereal garden, take a walk through the concept store itself, browsing the latest collections, artistic collaborations, antique book and extensive magazine collections of the Marras Universe. Everywhere you look there is something that will take your breath away. As this is a family and extended family establishment, often you will even see the designer himself and his family. Having meetings, enjoying a cup of coffee, interacting in the space as if it was in fact a living room; a very elegant and tasteful one at that. Industrial interior design, paired with weathered antique furniture and chicly dressed mannequins with divine headscarves to pair. Browsing the store is a walk through an unknown yet extremely familiar land. One of the most common questions throughout the experience is “Where is the bathroom?”, or the equivalent in Italian or French. Even to find the bathroom, one must wander through decor appearing curtains into another room and again through a sliding door, in to the most exquisite rest room you are likely to have seen. Once the courtyard and store have been browsed, you may wonder, where is the exhibition space? Although within the store itself are roughly 6 collaborations or exhibitions of other artists in the space, in the rooms which are usually the Nonostante Marras showrooms and have been transformed into a gallery space. Orfanele, one of Marras’ famous art installation series, fills the main open space of the showroom; a mysterious, calming yet ominously repetitive, distinctly unique creation. In the entrance and in the back-right hand side of the space, the collaboration between Antonio and the Campana brothers is hung. It is an embroidered collection of lamp structures with the faces of many famous international Banditos on the front of the canvas; embroidery is done by the Campana brothers, with the help of women who live in the favelas of Brazil. The Banditos are dressed by Antonio, with patchwork in carefully laid out setting; the designer is dressing the Banditos as he sees them in his universe. Alongside these hanging lamps, along the walls, are Antonio’s interpretation of these Banditos in his collages of them, dressed in Marras. CIBUS | may 2017 29
Beyond these gallery spaces, up a corridor and through a gently deconstructed set of glass French doors, is an Eden. A place outfitted floor to ceiling with natural vines and greenery sent over from Sardinia, as well as an abundant assortment of flowers amongst the ceiling decor and the tables themselves. Each table is dressed with an eclectic set of antique china, crystalware and silverware. The topping on each table is crystalware filled with wild plants, fine linens, and table cloths hand painted by Antonio. Graciously clasped amongst the natural vines hanging from the ceiling are hand thrown, delicate glass balls, with a space within them large enough to hold a tea light. Aside from vintage studio lights, these candles are the primary lighting for the pop up restaurant. The meal is a 7-course gourmet culinary experience. The wine and beverages are flowing; each taste, consistency and pairing is as carefully curated as the space itself.
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“The strapline for Salone del Mobile: “Be the first to see the latest” affirmed the role of an event that over time has become a “mustsee”, a global benchmark for the furnishing and design sector.” (Salone Mobile) An international event like this taking place in the design hub, Milano, is now becoming a culinary hotspot as well as one for design and furnishing. Nonostante Marras ties all of these together. From the first day of Design Week, the pop up restaurant was completely booked throughout the duration of the event. Every day, people tried their best to get squeezed onto the list but due to the level of attention to detail of the dining experience and the select number of tables, it was impossible to make changes. The people who were unable to book a reservation for this year have already began putting their names on the request list for next year. An annual culinary and aesthetic hotspot for Salone del Mobile Milano has been put on the map. If you are planning to be in Milano for Design Week 2018, make sure to take an afternoon for Nonostante Marras. and if you want to have your senses blown even further, get your name on the list for the pop up evening culinary experience.
THE SHOP WORTH VISITING
Petrolea is a company founded three generations ago, in 1891. It is currently owned and managed by the third generation of Zarbs. Since the early days of its inception the company has always prided itself on stocking fine quality merchandise. From fine bone china, crystal ware, top designer Alessi products, giftware, general kitchenware, utensils and appliances, general household plastics, bathroom accessories, outdoor and leisure, to industrial pallet racking and storage shelving systems.
The range of products has evolved following technological trends. Initially, Petrolea specialised in the supply of Paraffin related items. These high quality, and at the time state of the art products, established Petrolea as the leader and trendsetter for the supply of such goods. Nowadays, Petrolea has kept in line with the technological improvements and is now supplying products which are turning the ‘home’ into an evolving experience. As of its inception, Petrolea operated its own retail outlets. Petrolea was founded by Carmelo Zarb in Rabat in 1891. The name
Petrolea was derived from the plural term of petroleum. Soon after his son Beato Zarb took over the business in 1920, the business moved to 26, Merchant Street, Valletta. This was the capital’s main street for commercial activity. This outlet had always been the primary destination for all those clients that needed any item related to the kitchen and home. Renovated in 1997 and spread over three floors, covering an area of 300sqm, it became one of Malta’s top Household/Gift stores. Our logo said it all … “The Shop Worth Visiting”. In 2010 the decision was taken to move out from the renowned Store in Merchant Street, to a bigger and more centralised new showroom in Valley Road, Msida. This new Outlet is more easily accessible, due to the extensive Parking facilities and offers the convenience of being open all through the day. At these new premises, one can find the complete range of products on display. Since 1965, Petrolea established a vast network and around Malta and Gozo introducing the Wholesale Division. The wholesale division kept growing and today operates from a modern complex at Birkirkara, incorporating a 2,500sqm warehouse, showroom and head office, and is serviced by a fleet of vehicles.
This year we are proud to be celebrating 125 years in supplying domestic commodities, we still pride ourselves, as we did in 1900, in offering the best and most modern kitchen and household novelties, while still maintaining our traditional high standard of service to our customers – offering free delivery and personal service to our clients.
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Petrolea Limited Showroom, Valley Road, Msida Tel: 21234501 / 21235478 Opening hours: Mon to Fri – 9.30-7.00; Sat – 9.30-1.00 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.petroleamalta.com LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
WEBER BBQS AT FORESTALS Founded in 1952, the Weber name has become synonymous with grilling. Weber barbeques are known for quality and trusted for the perfect backyard or poolside cooking experience. Forestals are proud to offer an extensive selection of charcoal, gas and electric Weber barbeques, parts and accessories. With more than 60 of the newest grills available, you are sure to find the perfect model, colour and price for your needs. All Weber premium series grills offer long lasting, easy-to-maintain stainless steel rod cooking grates and flavourizer bars. From Weber charcoal grills such as the classic One-Touch® Kettle to the latest in
grilling technology from Weber gas grills such as the Summit®, Weber grills offer a wide range of cooking features and options for grillers of all types. And if you already own a Weber, check out Forestals for the latest in grilling accessories, Weber grill covers and parts to keep your barbeque in prime grilling condition.
See the entire range of Weber BBQs and accessories at the Forestals showroom in Mriehel, Forestals @ Distinct Homes in Victoria, Gozo. Alternatively you may visit forestals.com – all online orders come with free delivery to all Malta and Gozo.
mother of invention
34 CIBUS | may 2017
FEATURE WORDS BY
r at least it used to be, before advertising came along and turned the whole thing around, making it possible to start with the invention and worry about the necessity for it later. as i write this, for example, there is a gadget on the market that ‘easily cracks eggs open’, presumably for people who don’t have... err... hands, and the lines above are the only explanation i have for the existence of such a device. Because, let’s face it, if you can’t successfully get the inside of an egg to the outside of an egg without making a complete mess, you probably shouldn’t be allowed in the kitchen in the first place. But let’s set cynicism aside for a second — which is easier to do than to say — and go back to the good old days where if the need for something became essential people found a way to make it happen. Back to the days of Thomas edison, for example, who, having had it up to here with oil lamps and candles, decided to invent the light bulb. or alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, and had no idea that one hundred and forty-one years later, people would be physically incapable of leaving the house or going to the toilet without the modern equivalent of his invention in hand. and then there are the lesser known inventors, whose inventions have nevertheless become a crucial part of our daily lives. John Harrington, for example, who supposedly invented the aforementioned toilet, and Joseph c Gayetty, who gave us toilet paper and saved us from an uncomfortable and probably quite painful future of leaves, sticks, stones, corncobs and the pages of Sears catalogues. Stepping out of the bathroom, we can thank Walter Hunt for the safety-pin, david M Smith for the clothes peg, Harvey Kennedy for shoelaces with aglets, and Whitcomb l Judson for the zip. and i’m going to stop there, partly because if you want to know more you can always use Google, invented in 1998 by Sergey Brin and larry Page, but mostly, because this isn’t about inventions. This is an article about the humble hamburger. nobody really knows who came up with the beautifully simple yet mouth-wateringly brilliant concept of sticking a juicy round of ground beef between the head and heel of a halved bun, although there are plenty of people scattered throughout history who are willing to take credit for it. The origin of the hamburger is the cause of numerous disputes, but one thing that many of the stories have in common is that the burger only found its way into the bun in a fit of desperation because its inventor had run out of some other ingredient. necessity, as the saying goes, being the mother of invention and all that.
i’m willing to bet, however, that the true inventor of the hamburger was someone with two young children who never made the same choice when asked what they fancied for dinner. This someone, therefore, would have needed something that was versatile enough to cater to a variety of tastes while simultaneously being simple enough to add to or subtract from without having to cook two completely different meals. Someone, in other words, like me. Jake is ten years old, while amy is seven. Something that i’ve learned over the years from playing the role of ‘slightly befuddled father’ is that children, unlike adults, don’t define themselves by their attitudes and opinions, principles or beliefs, but rather by what they like and don’t like. This, i suppose, is why all kids have a favourite colour, and a lucky number, and a ‘coolest’ cartoon character... it’s important to them. it’s their ‘thing’. it’s who they are. Which is why Jake likes ketchup, but amy likes mayonnaise. it’s meat for one, but fish for the other. one wants pizza when the other wants pasta, and Jake will always opt for chips but amy prefers boiled potatoes... and so on and so forth. The trickiest thing to invent, i suppose, is ourselves. and yeah... that all sounds very deep and philosophical and stuff, but this is still an article about hamburgers. Because, while Jake prefers his with cheese and a fried egg and the size of a small bungalow, and amy would rather have it plain in a sesame seed bun with a touch of mayo, the point, at long last, is this... they both think that my burgers are the best thing since sliced bread, and sense of identity be damned. So, after all that, here’s the part you should have skipped ahead to if all you wanted was a recipe... i make the burger itself from minced meat which is about eighty percent beef and twenty percent fat. To that i add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of garlic salt, and that’s pretty much it. i don’t add things like chopped onions or cheese or barbeque sauce to the mix because i’m going to slip them into the bun with the burger later anyway, so what would be the point? Much simpler to just grab roughly two hundred and fifty grams of the mixture, roll it into a loose ball, and gently pat it down into a patty, about three-quarters of an inch thick. So that’s what i do. and then i stick my thumb slap-bang into the middle of it, leaving an indent a quarter of an inch deep. This is because the burger, being thicker in the middle, won’t cook evenly otherwise. CIBUS | may 2017 35
and that’s that. Sprinkle an overly generous amount of salt on it just before you whack it onto a hot grill, because half of it will instantly burn off anyway, and then - and i can’t emphasise this enough - just leave. it. alone. Seriously. There’s a special place in hell for people who push down on a burger with a fish slice. Give it roughly three minutes, and then flip the burger, and leave it alone again. another three to four minutes, and that’s the patty sorted. you’re halfway there. The other half, of course, is putting it all together. i like to lightly toast the bun first and then build the sandwich upside-down. yeah, i know, but trust me on this. it’s all about one filling complimenting the other, and juices settling, and your sandwich not imploding or falling to pieces through your fingers. So here goes... Put the top of the burger bun on a plate, and smear on your favourite sauce or condiment - it’s piccalilli for me, because i have no problem with neon yellow foodstuffs that glow in the dark. Sliced tomatoes go next, followed by cheese, because cheese goes great with tomatoes and piccalilli pickle. Then toss on some fried onions and follow with the burger itself, followed by lettuce, which acts as a barrier between the juices from the meat and the rest of the bun. Finally, add a squelch of your second favourite sauce - ketchup, mayo, whatever - on the bottom half of the bun, and balance it on top of it all. Flip the lot, give it a couple of minutes while the juices settle and the cheese melts over the burger to hold the onions in place... and bask in the eternal gratitude of your taste-buds while your stomach sings your praises. and it all takes fifteen minutes, start to finish. or perhaps twenty, if you happen to be the owner of an ‘easy egg crack-omatic’ and wish to add an egg. or perhaps some jalapenos and cream cheese, if you fancy a Mexican twist. you could also rub some spices into the burger before grilling, and chuck in a slice of fried aubergine, or some hummus, or falafel, for a taste of the Middle east. Such is the versatility of the perhaps not-so-humble-after-all hamburger.
and now, if you’ll excuse me, i think i’ll stop there. it’s time for dinner, and i’m making Squid Sirloin with boiled chips, frambled egg and a dollop of ketchonnaise. and don’t even talk to me about pizzasta. Because i have two kids with a very culinary sense of identity. and because necessity, as the saying goes, is the... ... ah, you know how it goes.
[editor’s note: There’s something to be said about the controversies regarding edison and the patent office, but this is not the place for that.]  [editor’s note: not a typo, it’s an actual way of serving eggs that’s something between a fried egg and a scrambled egg, a blend of modern art and breakfast foods]  [editor’s note: This is what people that went to Junior college would know as ‘soss’ and they would also know exactly where to get it from.]  [editor’s note: i have no idea...and i’m too scared to ask.] 
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AUTHENTIC WORDS BY
eople often ask me what food is like in australia and the funny part is I never really gave aussie food a second thought until I left its shores for good to relocate to sunny Malta. Most parts of the world have iconic foods like pastizzi are to Malta, pizza is to Italy and sushi is to Japan. australia is no different and if you were to run a Google search on aussie food today, then you are likely come across vegemite and meat pies.
now don’t get me wrong, these items are as aussie as you can get, in fact there would hardly be a house in australia without a jar of vegemite in the pantry and a box of Four’N’Twenty pies in the freezer. These aren’t, however, what aussies crave when they head out for a night out with their loved ones, which brings us back to the question, what is aussie food really like? It’s not like I am trying to avoid the question, but it is a very difficult question to answer. The fact is australia is an extremely multicultural society so in reality you can find almost any variety of foods in any one of its vast locations. a trip to Melbourne city will have your taste buds in a frenzy when you walk past the numerous restaurants offering anything from european, asian to Middle eastern cuisine. Trying to pin point something down as typically aussie is hard to say the least but definitely not impossible. To answer the question it became apparent that you have to look deeper than what was being served in local
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restaurants today. This only shows us that aussies like variety and doesn’t give us the insight into what is truly australian cuisine. Having lived in australia for more than thirty years I would have to say that australians lean towards the carnivorous side of things. This isn’t really surprising when you note australia’s booming agricultural trade, which has lamb and beef in the plenty for aussies to feast on. This love of meat is pared well with the other aussie love, which is to eat outdoors. bbQs are a big part of the aussie summer, and although most would know the aussie catch phrase “throw another shrimp on the barbie”, typically its sausages lamb and beef which grace the aussie bbQ.
Overall I would say that unless they’re feeling adventures, aussies would hunker down to a steak dinner when at home or even when enjoying an evening out on the town. as someone who tended to be more on the vegetarian side of things it never really appealed to me to sit down to a big slab of meat. luckily there was a vast array of culinary options at my fingertips, and as time went by I saw more and more of my aussie pals putting down the steak knife to try something new. at their core, I think aussies will always have their carnivorous tendencies however. It’s a fairly safe bet to make when noting that even the kangaroo, a national emblem of australia, graces their dinner plate on occasions.
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SUMMER WORDS AND PHOTO BY
jamie iain genovese
historical facts about capers that I first came across the following word: carminative, which the caper was used as in ancient Greece. What’s a carminative? It’s basically meant to have the opposite effect on you that beans infamously do. Does it work? Probably not. The Hebrews used caper berries idiomatically to represent human desire, as they believed it was an aphrodisiac. Does it work? Well, no, it didn’t make the cut for our February issue for a reason, we’ve been over However, and I might catch some this. Still, despite not having any hate for this, ftajjar with capers These edible flower actual applications as a hearty inside are probably about the best buds are quite folk-medicine, the caper has thing I could have on a beach in Mediterranean, flourished Westwards from the May, when capers start to really they’re emblematic, East, and some might suggest come into season. The kind you identity-giving. that it inherited its name from buy, brined, in a jar, just become Cyprus, Κύπρος, where it grows these little salty, saliva-inspiring, in abundance. That’s about as surprises in every other bite. That’s concise a history I can give, and great, that’s fantastic. if you skipped it, I wish you flatulence and apathy. But I digress, we should focus more on This following paragraph will go into its history the matter at hand: what are capers like, what a little bit, if you don’t like that, feel free to skip good are they? ahead. It is upon researching some basic
hat being said, I like living on an island in the Mediterranean, I love hitting a rocky beach early in the morning with a book in early May with intermittent dips. I like wearing bright sunny colours and pushing my skin to a very slight tan, sunglasses are some of my favourite accessories. Throw in beach food like a good portion of chips or calamari fritti, and, well, we’re golden.
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These edible flower buds are quite mediterranean, they’re emblematic, identity-giving. growing and collecting capers is a somewhat arduous process since the only viable method of collection is picking them by hand, but they otherwise can grow in a few adverse scenarios. They need our semi/arid climates, it adapts to low-content soils, it grows in gravelly areas, nonorganic patches not quite known for life-giving properties. imagine the opposite of the densities that is the amazon forest, or if you’re maltese, just picture the bushes you see growing on bastion walls. Yeah, those, those are caper bushes, those flower buds can be picked, brined, and placed in your ftira, or better yet: the super easy puttanesca. Capers need no special expertise or finesse to be added into meals, thankfully, and they add punch. so, don’t think too hard about how to add them to the right kind of seafood or pasta dish, just don’t overdo it. Spaghetti alla puttanesca, which isn’t the politest or politicallycorrect names for dinner plate, is famous because of its easy-peasy nature You’ll find a few variations, between the neapolitan version which is prepared without anchovies, or sometimes with chilli peppers thrown in. The Lazio version? it has anchovies. But, at its core, we have a simple dish. Take a few tomatoes, cut ‘em up, mince some garlic, a small handful of capers and pitted olives, olive oil, and maybe some parsley for the end. You sauté garlic, maybe some onion too, in the olive oil, then cook the rest and let it simmer, and then pour that over al dente pasta with some oregano, parsley (which i don’t enjoy), salt, and pepper to taste. it’s a fun dish, with salt, with fragrance, and as everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection says: punch. Capers have the power to add rivulets of surprise in a meal, much like sultanas in a curry. if you’re adding them to fish, to bread, or to pasta, they can work. just keep that in mind when you’re stuck making a little meal to take to the beach.
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FOR THE SAKE OF
THE BARTENDERS eople love alcohol, they love cocktails, drinks, drinking, drinking culture. All fifty-two weekends in Malta are celebrated with people going out to drink. We’re Mediterranean, it’s fine, and drinking isn’t even for everyone. But people do go to bars, and meet the gatekeepers that are our fine bartenders. Given that these people give us the alcohol we like, you’d think we’d be nicer to them for it, at the very least. But we’re not. Quelle surprise. To talk about that, I asked a few bartenders for five on so things people do that they really wish they wouldn’t. They’re anonymous, because people can get weird about stuff like this. 1. While serving a drink, people try to get your attention by shoving money in your face. 2. When people get drunk they start dropping their drinks and you have to stay cleaning after them. 3. When serving someone a drink and other people put their hands in your face to get your attention. 4. People you barely know, when you’re busy behind the bar, start acknowledging your existence and become your best friend so they can be served before others. 5. When people had a drink too many they become really clumsy and start dropping drinks over the bar to my side. It’s annoying because everything becomes sticky.
6. People not saying please and thank you. 7. People waving money in your face. 8. People whistling at you to grab your attention like you’re some dog. 9. People telling you that you gave them bad change — I gave you 50 not 20! 10. People ordering a drink, they’re drunk, they spill it, and then expect you to pour another for free. 11. When people order a drink, you make it and then they tell you no I didn’t order that, or that they don’t want it anymore 12. When you go to serve someone and they tell you ‘Wait, let me see what the others want.’ 13. When they order 1 drink, ask how much it is, and they still have to grab their wallets/ purses and end up paying with the smallest of change. 14. When people order tequila, use lemon and salt, throw the lemon on the bar top, and drop the salt on the floor. 15. When you’re making a drink and they grab your hand and say ‘Me next, please!’ It seems that we don’t mind abusing our bartenders, that our drinks kick common sense & decency out the window, for the most part. So, here’s a starting point for all the stuff you and I could be doing that downright pisses bartenders off. Keep them in mind as things to avoid for next time, yeah?
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Put your money where your mouth is WORDS BY
late of food,’ answers award-winning chef and champion of the ‘farm-to-table’ movement, Dan Barber. Dan is renowned for his ethos of sustainable agriculture and cuisine, which runs through all of his writing and is the foundation upon which his restaurants are built. in his vision, our culture of cooking and eating must be totally transformed – moving away from the traditional ‘meat & 2 veg’ model that we’ve inherited, but that is no longer viable, and towards what he calls ‘the third plate’- a way of eating which seamlessly connects responsible farming and growing with delicious food. The third plate is basically a better way of eating – whichever way you look at it. Less than two years ago, i embarked upon a journey of inquiry into food: both its immediate effects on my own body but also the
economic and environmental implications of everything i bought and ate, where it came from and where it was going. The further i ventured down this path, the more determined i was to strip away the layers of the primordial act of eating. eating, this thing we enjoy so much, the thing we must all do to survive, is our most basic and candid interaction with the earth, the ground beneath us. it’s the stuff we’re made from and the stuff we return to. it’s something worth caring about — something worth investigating. The simple act of eating has developed into a complex industrial and economic process. While we still enjoy the celebration of food around a dinner table, the fundamental link between us and the crops — or indeed the creatures — we consume has largely been cut. We stroll up and down supermarket aisles, where a million people, production lines and layers of plastic stand in between us and our most basic necessity. at best, eating could be a grateful reception of whatever the land can provide. But above all it is now a commercial transaction – which by default means that we have expectations about what our food should look like, taste like, and how much of it should be available. in the supermarkets that satisfy these vast and immediate expectations ease and convenience are championed over quality and nourishment. Ready-made ingredients and meals, pre-packaged fruit and veg in uniform colours and shapes – they’re all so far removed from the reality of nature that they negate any need to question their origins. it’s hard to believe that packets upon packets of standardised and carefully selected carrots or mushrooms actually grew from the soil. similarly, meat –
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any cut, from any animal, and processed in a multitude of ways – is conveniently wrapped in plastic and available at all times. This veil of abundance hides the realities of a mass production process that is catastrophic for people, animals and the environment. it’s a process that’s wasteful and damaging, threatening our natural resources and degrading our soils. once we uncover these realities, it becomes glaringly obvious that we need to transform the way we eat – starting with our own personal choices. There’s something beautiful about the first taste of artichokes in spring; strawberries in summer. it marks the time, just like autumn’s falling leaves or the sudden wind and rain in september. it connects us to something bigger than ourselves: an ancient order that rules over all living things. The earth’s ticking clock; a rhyme and reason that, given patience and respect, goes on providing. We’re pushing it to its limits, and nowhere is it more evident than in the field of agriculture and food production. The once simple, beautiful and human act of eating has been adulterated by commercial gain. Brands do seem to be catching on to this, however: These days, we see ‘organic’ labels printed on everything from avocados to eggs to tinned beans, as public awareness has grown, and fashion’s caught on. But sustainable eating, and Dan Barber’s third plate, doesn’t mean passive acceptance of what the packaging will have us believe – even if it’s labelled ‘organic’. it’s more than the label. it’s more than the transaction. it’s a new way of eating; a new way of looking at food. it’s about stripping away those layers, getting closer to our food and the hands through which it’s passed. it’s about bringing back an attitude of curiosity and gratitude, even of the most humble crop – one that gives us life and health. it’s about respect for and contemplating death, which meat-eating necessitates. it’s about being more accountable for our actions and their impact. Luckily, there are organisations and farms fighting for a better food system. i’m on a veg scheme with London’s Growing Communities, and am glad to learn that Malta’s got an equivalent – The Veg Box. organisations like these provide local, organic and seasonal fruit and veg all year round. They ensure that farmers are paid fairly, bolster communities by promoting local food growing, and support sustainable farming practices that protect our soils (and our bodies!). it thrills me to open the bag each week and find a vegetable i’ve never seen before, still stained with soil, and have to figure out what to pair it with. i now feel i can whip up a delicious meal with any weird and wonderful crop that turns up. it feels right to know that my money is being spent ethically, on quality ingredients, and on a transparent process that i understand fully. Most of all, i love the new connection i’ve attained with nature – feeling the seasons as they pass me by, and appreciating the gifts that each one brings with curiosity and joy.
MODENA BALSAMIC GLAZE
Modena Balsamic Glaze is the most classic and best known variety, with the perfect balance of subtle acidity, sweetness and grape aromas. An intense graze full of aromatic hints that is excellent to prepare or garnish any kind of dish. Rasberry Balsamic Glaze is ideal to accentuate the flavour of fruit salads, desserts, ice-creams and more adventurous combinations with duck and strong cheeses. Borges apple balsamic glaze stands out for its striking colour and intense aroma. It enhances the combinations with flavours. Mango Balsamic Glaze is the perfect dressing for the preparation or garnishing of salads, appetizers and tasty desserts. This cream is ideal to give an exotic touch to your recipes. Its lively colour, smooth texture and rich mango aroma will enhance the flavour of your most innovative recipes. For more information, visit www.borges.es and www.facebook/BorgesMT
NEW PLASMON X-KIDZ!
Plasmon presents a new range of delicious smoothies suitable for children from 3 years upwards. From passion fruit, strawberries, mangos, apricots and bananas, the x-Kidz smoothies are a yummy blend of healthy fruit. Using only ingredients grown at the Plasmon Oasi, these smoothies are presented in a convenient squeezie pouch that’s perfect for toddlers on-the-go. They are ideal to pop in lunchboxes, or to enjoy as a fun fruity snack in between meals. NEW Plasmon x-Kidz are made from 100% fruit with no added sugar and loads of vitamin C goodness. Plasmon X-Kidz multipacks are available in all three fruity flavours. For more information, call the Plasmon team on 2258 8600 or visit our Facebook page: Plasmon (Malta).
GREEK STYLE YOGHURT
Pascual Greek style yoghurts are made with high quality natural ingredients and have no preservatives. Enjoy their super creamy texture and unbeatable taste in three different flavours: Plain sweetened, Vanilla (gluten free) and Fruits of the Forest (gluten free). You can find Pascual Greek style yoghurts at your preferred supermarket or convenience store. Follow us on Facebook to find out more: www.facebook.com/PascualMalta CIBUS | may 2017 47
A STRONG AND RICH HERITAGE
Campari has a strong and rich heritage with more than 150 years of history. Campari is extremely versatile and an essential ingredient for a variety of well-known cocktails. Among the most popular are the Campari Tonic, Negroni and Americano. Campari Tonic consists of 1 part Campari and 3 parts Tonic. Fill a balloon glass with ice, add 1 part Campari, 3 parts Tonic and ﬁnish off with a slice of lime. Campari is the No.1 Spirit Aperitif in the world and is the driving force behind the bitters trend that’s exploding worldwide.
PACKED WITH NUTRIENTS AND FIBRE
Using the ancient grains of Quinoa, Chia, Teff and Flax Seeds, their wraps are packed with nutrients and fibre and taste absolutely brilliant. They’re also a great source of protein! Perfect for lunch on the go or as a tasty pizza base, these wraps are so versatile and so tasty you won’t believe they’re not wheat! They are also free from gluten, dairy, egg, nut and soy. Made with super seeds and suitable for vegans! Imported by J.Calleja Import & Export Ltd; email: email@example.com; website: www.jcallejaltd.com
TEA, AS IT SHOULD NATURALLY BE
Clipper is dedicated to bringing you delicious teas that are beautiful inside and out. They consider everything from the sourcing of all of their ingredients, where the tea comes from, to the way they blend and pack it; whilst always upholding their policy of ‘no artificial ingredients’. Their new tea range adds a twist to some of your favourite blends. Skinni Mintie – Double Mint & Caramel Organic Infusion: a delightfully indulgent interpretation of a caramel and mint humbug, without the remorse. Skinni Vanilli – Strawberry & Vanilla Organic Infusion: a gloriously sweet infusion reminiscent of sunny days and ice cream. Happy Mondays – Lemon, Ginger & Cracked Black Pepper Organic Infusion: a beautifully distinctive zingy citrus infusion with a warming ginger and fiery black pepper twist. Like all Clipper teas, this range is championing the very recognisable unbleached tea bag.
GLUTEN FREE DESSERTS
The Betty Crocker Gluten Free range is now in all leading stores where you will find the Devil’s Food Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix, the Velvety Chocolate Gluten Free Icing and the Chocolate Fudge Gluten Free Brownie Mix. This range is so rich and decadent, you’ll never guess it’s gluten free! Take your sweet tooth to new heights and create desserts for all to enjoy. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to make! For more information, contact Francis Busuttil & Sons (Marketing) Ltd on 2148 4492, or firstname.lastname@example.org 48 CIBUS | may 2017
ONLY THE BEST FOR YOUR MUM THIS MOTHER’S DAY
Why not show your mum she’s appreciated by booking in for a Sunday Special at Malta’s Best Restaurant for Maltese Food 2016? Ta’ Marija has a mouth-watering menu carvery buffet lunch that will not only satisfy, but impress. For only €35 per person, Ta’ Marija promise an indulging gastronomic experience with an assortment of over 50 Maltese and Mediterranean delicacies prepared by their award winning chefs. To complete the experience, you will also be entertained by strolling mandolins and guitars. Don’t forget their all-inclusive buffet nights every Saturday with entertainment, as well as their Sunday family lunches at only €25. And for those who want to travel back in time while savouring exquisite food, join Ta’ Marija for their folklore dinner shows every Wednesday and Friday evening. Ta’ Marija Restaurant, Constitution Street, Mosta; tel: 2143 4444; email: email@example.com; website: www.tamarija.com