‘We don’t have much call for them,’ says the kiosk man selling oranges at the Wied Incita nursery in Attard. ‘Nice to know someone’s using them. Everyone likes things easy and ready-made these days. Here, have them for free.’
Another gem of daily life in Malta: generosity coupled with five kilos of Malta’s produce at its best; humble bitter oranges, and all for free. The annual ritual at the kiosk is for me part of the sweeter side of living here.
Two nights later and I’ve the 2011 batch of marmalade made for the price of the sugar and some gas. Whatever the cost per kilo of my jam, it’s worth it. Once you’ve tasted marmalade that’s made with fruit from tree to pot in hours, you’ll never buy factory made again. I love the ritual making it. The house is cold and damp right now, but smells of heavenly citrus. Warming and uplifting. When sun is in shorter supply, even in Malta, these oranges are my fix.
Malta’s citrus fruit comes into season now, January, just when we need it most to help boost our vitamin levels and keep viruses in check. It’s bountiful, cheap, and far better than any imports. The kiosk man will only be there for a few more weeks until the government nursery guys have picked all the fruit in Buskett and San Anton Gardens. You’ll need to ask for the bitter ones, but the sweeter ones are on sale daily. Wied Incita is on the fringes of Attard as you head up to Mdina on the main road. Logs for sale there too sometimes.
Photo: Liz Ayling