30 Days in Malta: Chapter 5

Valletta Upper Barracca Gardens - Malta
Valletta Upper Barracca Gardens – Malta
By Mary Charlebois

Water, olives, fish, fenkata, and Homer…

With less than 60-days until takeoff, I’m resisting the urge to pack. Some of the reading I’ve done makes me think I should bring along my Brita water pitcher.

Malta has no rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. Water is sourced from the ocean, rain, or limited groundwater. Most potable water is desalinated sea water. It’s been through reverse osmosis, disinfected with chlorine, then re-mineralized with lime. The water is rated safe to drink but is said to have a salty/metallic aftertaste most folks don’t like. I might be one of them.

Xatt L-Ahmar, Malta
Xatt L-Ahmar, Malta

Boiling, bottled water, and filtering systems like Brita or Pur are popular ways of dealing with the off-taste. I’m hoping my apartments on Gozo and Malta have a ‘tasty water’ solution. If not, I’ll see what my neighbors suggest.

Brita Filtering Water Bottle
Brita Filtering Water Bottle

For daily drinking water, I’m thinking about trying Brita’s travel bottle. The price is right – $34 for stainless or $20 for BPA-free plastic. Filters last 2-months. Replacements filters are around $3 each.

Has anyone out there tried the Brita water bottle? Please leave a comment if you have.

Farming & water

Farmers cultivate only the most drought-tolerant plants and animals. Annual rainfall is about 24-inches a year. Only the least thirsty plants, trees, and creatures can make do with so few raindrops.

Farming has been practiced for thousands of years in the archipelago, a place that has limited topsoil and water, with loads of salt. How do farmers make things grow in these arid conditions? That’s one of the questions I’ll be asking while I’m there.

I’m looking into visiting a permaculture farm on Malta. I discovered it on Glamping Hub, a booking site for glamping and unusual accommodations all over the planet. I’m also working with them to set up a California Coast Winter Glamp-out. Choosing the Glamp-sites is tough, there are so many to choose from.

Crops

Olives
Olives

The most common tree on Malta is Olive. That sounds good to me. Olives of many varieties are grown and preserved or pressed for oil. Some olive trees are hundreds of years old. The number 2 tree is Carob, again, sounds very good to me.

Maltese farmers grow grapes, citrus, figs, pears, tomatoes, capers, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, wheat, and barley.

Meat production includes beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, and turkey. Dairy from sheep, goats, and cow are small batch and very regional.

Fish and shellfish are fabulous in Malta.
Fish and shellfish are fabulous in Malta.

Fish and shellfish are brought in by small fishing vessels and from offshore farms. Grouper, Dorado, tuna, red snapper, swordfish, sea bass, and bream are just a few types of hook-to-mouth fish on plates everywhere.

 

 

Fenkata - Rabbit Stew. The national dish of Malta.
Fenkata – Rabbit Stew. The national dish of Malta.

The national dish of Malta is Fenkata. The hearty rabbit stew is served in most restaurants and homes. The history is long, going back to the 1500s when Malta was home to the Knights of St John.

The traditional recipe reads a bit like American beef stew, with rabbit exchanged for the beef. I plan to learn to make this traditional dish and a few others I’ve seen. Guess I better find a cooking school.

The Iliad and the Odyssey

I ordered Homer’s epic poems today. I like to take a book with me about the place I’m visiting. Gozo is thought to be Calypso’s island from the Odyssey, so Homer got the nod. I vaguely recall reading this in high school. I’m sure I wasn’t a fan. If it proves to be true again, I’ll have a sleep remedy on my 11-hour flight.

Next month’s 30-Days in Malta post will be the last, just before I depart. Until then, thanks for stopping by, MaryGo

.. ________________________ ..

Folks Helping Me Plan My Trip to Malta

~ Local Experts – Visit MaltaMalta Uncovered ~

~ TransportVirgin AtlanticAir Malta ~

~ PlayHeadwater Walking Tours ~

~ HousingAir B&BHotel Ta Cenc & SpaGlamping Hub ~

~ Travel InsuranceAllianz ~

 

*All photos courtesy of Visit Malta, & Pond 5

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