The piece started off reveling in some of the quirkier aspects of local culture by choosing to highlight the weird and wonderful names the Maltese are apt to give their dwellings. ‘What’s in name’, wrote reporter Jacqui MacDermott. ‘Quite a lot if you come from Malta or its sister island Gozo…if you’re driving around, it’s quite possible to turn right at Weeping Madonna, pass Crown of Thorns, circumnavigate Sydney Harbour an arrive at God Bless America.’
I’ve lived here near on 15 years, and bar the last two house names, haven’t yet come across the über religious labels like Weeping Madonna or Crown of Thorn. Granted, a lot of houses are blessed with various saints’ names and sport plaques of the Madonna (probably some even opt for the pop star image as reliquary too). But, you are just as likely to see somewhat blander house names, like those derived from spouses’ forenames: such as Marvic, and Marwin (Margaret and Victor, and Mary and Winston).
The UK Times piece then focuses on Malta’s 16th-18th century history – the Knights of St John and World Heritage city Valletta, but fails to mention the equally important World Heritage prehistoric sites. Even on a visit of a few days, let alone a week, you could easily visit unique sites from both these periods in Malta’s history so short are distances to travel among them.
For foodies, the writer mentions the traditional fare – rabbit, lampuki (dorado), timpana (baked macaroni with pastry topping) and one swisher restaurant by name that’s on Grand Harbour Marina in Birgu (Vittoriosa). But, I feel a line should have gone to saying how Malta has its own budding breed of celebrity chefs creating tasty, innovative Mediterranean-influenced menus, and that wines are now winning prizes alongside those of long-established European neighbours like Italy. True, most tourists want to savour traditional fare, but contemporary food (like contemporary culture) has its place too.
Overall then, the Times stuck to a typical view of what Malta’s about. A lot of visitors to the Islands will want to know what really makes Malta tick, and tease out a far more vibrant encounter with the islands than so many tourist guides and two-day stay reporters on expenses seem to depict. We hope Malta Inside Out will fill this gap.