No mention of Maltese food is complete without a reference to the local Maltese bread, and more specifically the popular loaf called tal-Malti (literally, “of the Maltese”). Very crusty on the outside, yet soft on the inside, many visitors and the Maltese alike find the combination of taste and texture of fresh Maltese bread irresistible.
Indeed, Maltese bread tastes like no other bread in the world. However, to enjoy it at its best, the hobza tal-Malti must be eaten fresh, on the same day it was baked. You can find typical Maltese bread at most village groceries and supermarkets. However, a visit to a bakery is well worth your while, if only to witness and appreciate the rustic authenticity of the way it is produced – not to mention savouring the enticing aroma of the finished product, fresh out of the oven!
A perfect snack is hobz biz-zejt, served in practically every bar or kiosk and still a favourite packed lunch for many. Each bar and household has a different version of the ingredients which make up this popular snack, but they all make a substantial alternative to a quick lunchtime sandwich. The hobz biz-zejt is a large thick round of Maltese bread dipped in olive oil rubbed with ripe tomatoes and filled with a mix of tuna, onion, garlic, tomatoes and capers. A version made with the unleavened variety of Maltese bread, the ring-shaped Jtira; is just as delicious. In restaurants, smaller portions known as bruschetta are served as appetisers.
First-time visitors to the Maltese Islands are usually pleasantly surprised to realise that a loaf of bread can prove to be such a treat in itself. Some visitors are so taken by this genuine delicacy that they make sure they grab a loaf before boarding their planes, thus taking back home a simple, but incredible slice of Maltese life!