Every Mediterranean country has its unique shape and form of bread. They also have their own fillings to go in them for a snack lunch; the traditional choices inspired by what working folk in poorer times could rustle up. While the UK has its ploughman’s lunch (pub grub these days) with its thick slab of cheese, the Mediterranean steers clear of dairy as it tends to go off in the heat.
Here, in Malta, we opt for vegetarian or pescetarian fillings with combos of olives, tomatoes, onions, salad greens, beans of various kinds, tuna, anchovies, garlic, peppers, carrots, cauliflower and more. Whatever is in season or can be pickled and preserved. Each Med country to its own: the French port of Nice gave rise to the Pan-bagnat, which includes ingredients found in Salade Nicoise.
Malta has its much-loved Ftira, a disc-shaped semi flat bread that has a glorious texture. It’s like a ciabatta, but round and with a hole in the middle. When cut open, crusts flying off in all directions, and smothered in tomato paste and olive oil, with or without some of the ingredients above, it becomes simple summer snack heaven. You’ll find it everywhere on cafe’ menus, along with club sandwiches.
It’s risen from its work-a-day image but not lost its roots. Look around at Maltese families on our beaches this summer and spot hungry kids, fresh from the water, munching on filled Ftira or slices of Ħobż biż-Żejt (bread similarly sliced up with oil and toms). A word of warning if you do eat it wearing a suit, watch where the oil drips! Or be prepared to rush to the dry cleaners.
The ftira or Ħobż biż-Żejt symoblises summer for us. So, in celebration of the season and the wonderful vegetables that Malta has right now, we’ll point you to the most amazing Ftira filling you can make – a deluxe version of Giardiniera; that delicious mix of veg in oil you can make now and store for those long, lingering days on the beach. Mouthwateringvegan founder Miriam Sorrell has the best Giardiniera recipe we’ve come across. As her photos show, it’s ‘culinary joy’. For anyone born and bred in Malta, its aroma and taste will take you back to childhood on the beach.
If you’ve never made Giardiniera before, make this and you’ll never buy it from the shops again!
Elizabeth Ayling says
Exactly, pub grub, that’s about as near to trad English you get these days, unless you believe all the UK cooks Jamie Oliver’s nostalgic dishes that his gran loved! I doubt workers in the 1900s could afford the cheese it’s true. I’ve known the ploughman’s since the 1960s, so that’s traditional enough! But for anyone visiting the UK from overseas, the ploughman’s is an English snack that’s on menus countrywide, and that’s pretty much what the Ftira is in Malta.
Er, ploughman’s lunch is not a traditional English snack or meal. It was invented quite recently as pub grub!
Elizabeth Ayling says
Leticia, will help of course. The photos are reproduced here with the kind permission of Miriam Sorrell, founder of mouthwateringvegan.com. You can contact her via facebook – group of the same name as site. Or via the site comments. Let me know if you need more. Do link back to us here if you’re using text or referring! Links appreciated!
Leticia Avierkiieva says
Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is Leticia Avierkiieva and I am a contributor at http://www.mycitycuisine.org, a wiki project. I am currently working on an article about Ħobż biż-Zejt for the project, and am in need of a photo for the article.
I wanted to inquire in regards to your photo:
The photo would be perfect for the article. Would you be willing to give mycitycuisine.org permission to use your photo for the project?
If you agree to let mycitycuisine.org to use the photo, please specify the terms of permission in your reply so I can upload this photo with the correct license terms.
1.) I certify that I am the owner of this photo. I grant mycitycuisine.org and its owner to use this photo for any purpose with attribution to me as the photo owner.
2.) I certify that I am the owner of this photo. I release all rights of this photo and place this photo in the public domain.
I thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.
Leticia Avierkiieva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PS: mycitycuisine.org is a wiki project so you are encouraged to contribute to it by sharing your knowledge of your local cuisine. Thank you.