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Maltese Culinary Traditions Then and Now

qaghaq tal-ghasel malta

Every country has its own culinary traditions, and experiencing these traditions in person is part of the beauty of travelling. Feasts and celebrations are often accompanied by traditional foods, enjoyed solely during that event. As often happens, things may change over time.

Today, we shall be listing three famous Maltese food items, which were typically prepared for specific events, but which are now enjoyed throughout the year.

  • Honey rings adorn confectionary windows all year round. Originally, this sweet was a celebrative food available solely during the Christmas period. The earliest visual representation of the 𝑄𝑎𝑔ħ𝑎𝑞 𝑡𝑎𝑙-𝐺ħ𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑙 [honey ring] in Malta to-date was painted by Pasquale Leonetti, possibly of Sicilian origin, in 1762. The image above (main photo) was taken by Daniel Cilia and is located in the Refectory of the former Jesuit retreat in Floriana, a five-minute walk from The Phoenicia Malta hotel.
  • 𝐵𝑖𝑔𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑎 is a perfect  example to attest how aspects of culinary cultures change through time. Today revered as a popular broad bean dip, two centuries ago served during funerals. The eighteenth century Gozitan Canon Agius De Soldanis records how 𝑏𝑒𝑔ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑎 was shared with the poor among the processional congregation accompanying the deceased to the funeral mass.
  • Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is a Maltese drink traditionally served after Midnight Mass and on New Year’s Eve. It is made using cocoa, chestnuts, cloves, and citrus zest. Nowadays most households enjoy preparing this throughout the year, especially during the cold winter months, due to its warm and comforting ingredients.
imbuljuta tal qastan

On the contrary, the following is a popular beverage enjoyed worldwide but which was not originally associated with an event:

  • Today, mulled wine is enjoyed as a Christmas drink across numerous countries. Did you know, however, that spiced wine dates back to the Romans in the 2nd century? The warmth of this beverage helped them through the freezing winter months, whilst the spices were believed to help ward off illness and disease. In the 17th and 18th century it was also given to women during childbirth as it was believed to aid the process. Mulled wine only started becoming associated with Christmas during the late 19th century.
mulled wine malta christmas

At The Phoenicia Malta, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, we are proud of our culinary traditions, which is why our Executive Chef Daniel Debattista and his kitchen brigade often prepare such foods for our guests to enjoy.

Thank you to Taste History for these culinary insights.



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