Nine years ago when I was stepping on the Maltese roads for the first time, many things were different here. The currency was Lira. The cute old yellow buses were driving down the streets with black smoke behind them. The oldest bus I once travelled on was from 1955. It was coughing during the steep hills, and I was wondering if I would make it back home from the beach. The life philosophy was much simpler – the divorce wasn’t legal, and Malta surely wasn’t promoting itself as a gay-friendly destination. You could see and hear the Swedes when looking at the foreign people living here.
Now Malta is turning into a quite different island. The atmosphere has gotten more and more international, and a great variety of events and parties fill up the weekends. Sometimes I wonder if all the talk about things not progressing here fast enough is really called for. Business is booming and the cranes are rising over the once flat skyline. Expats might have some double standards – we surely promote the sunny weather and the crystal clear sea on our Facebook feed, but don’t fail to curse and point out the ”Maltese way” of handling things when an opportunity arises. So irrelevant! Why aren’t we concentrating on getting to know the local culture and heritage better?
I feel that I’m privileged to have my dear Maltese friend Chris since I moved here to do my University exchange in 2007. I get a much better chance to experience the Maltese friendliness, hospitality, and values. Anyway, I have always respected being able to live quite a nice life here. When Chris took us to eat Fenek – the traditional dish of rabbit – to Northern Malta, I once again realized how different it is outside the busy cities. It would be nice to come around a bit more often than once a year. In Sliema / St. Julian’s area one is often caught up in the expat bubble.
Our Fenek dinner took place at a 100% local restaurant in the countryside, which was nice and a little bit different than usually. It breaks my heart to admit as an ex-pet-rabbit owner; the Fenek was tasty. Chris said that rabbits became the traditional dish of Malta simply because you can always get them, they reproduce fast! We were in Mgarr, which is a famous strawberry village of Malta, and damn the strawberries were sweet. I was so happy to get them as a take away from the friendly restaurant owner/chef Wistin.
If you’re after an authentic Maltese dinner, go North or Midland. And travel around Malta in general. There is so much here, and the long lasted traditions are the best kept elsewhere than in the fast pace of the center.