Families are big in the Med. If you live on a small island like this, you have no real excuse not to meet your parents and your siblings. And yet, it’s part and parcel of 21st century life that we are more mobile, busy, dispersed, time-poor, disconnected and have every excuse not to.
All families have a cog. The person who keeps the wheels of the strange, permanent, blood network of the Maltese family in motion – and every so often shouts ‘Lunch!‘ to the other wheels and gets something organised.
In my family, the cog that gets the family assembled around lunch is my sister. ‘Lunch’ is usually the trigger for a pilgrimage to her place – but it can also be an excuse to go out and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, reunions … or to explore “this amazing new place by the water which does a great plate of pasta con rizzi and Dad hasn’t been there yet.” Most Maltese eating-places have long cottoned on to the Sunday family lunch phenomenon, and serve family buffets for everyone from nappy-changing age to Zimmer-frame dotage. If it’s a home affair, the Sunday family lunch can be a long drawn-out affair, with various components contributing to the the starter, main-course and dessert, or a simple barbecue.
I was thinking of the Maltese Sunday lunch cog today, as we prepared to go to Zebbug, for the reunion my sister organised for my brother, an academic in Manchester on a fleeting visit. In my book, the Sunday lunch cog has the following characteristics:
Ambivalent to dish-washing, loud kids, spillages
Loves ‘being round the kitchen table’
Tuned to the latest in social gossip
Always notices when someone has finished a course
A natural organiser
If you are Maltese, you must have a Sunday lunch cog in your family. What are they like?