In Malta, great importance is placed on fecundity. The Maltese consider children so important that their fairy tales don't end with "and they lived happily ever after". Instead the Maltese say "u għammru u tgħammru, u spiċċat". It means "and they lived together, and they had children together, and the tale is finished".* I love it.
By Maltese standards, I'm Cinde-freakin-rella - rescued from my coal-dust covered career by an Irrigator in shining gal pipe. We met at a ball that I departed before twelve (well, have you ever tried to get a cab in Brisbane after midnight?). At one point in our courtship I even lost a shoe, when my heel got stuck in a boardwalk.
Not long after the Irrigator and I moved to the farm we met Anthony and Sonia. I've never been to Malta, but Sonia has. We have Soni to thank for introducing us to Maltese sandwiches. She says that she and the kids from local Maltese farming community grew up eating them - they thought everybody did. They are simple and fantastic. Sometimes we sit down to have a few little slices as an accompaniment to a few post work beverages, get carried away and no one eats dinner.
There's no right way to make a Maltese sandwich - it's a personal preference thing. For the uninitiated (like me) it's also a case of experimenting until you find the perfect combo. It might take you a few goes, so come prepared with rousing stories and amusing anecdotes and cold wine.
Ftira (traditional Maltese bread)
if you don't have a secret family recipe I'd recommend a sourdough vienna loaf.
tomato paste - make your own if you've got time, it's deceptively easy
pancetta, prosciutto, coppa or a preserved meat of your choice
garlic, finely sliced
tomatoes - semi dried and fresh
anchovies - white anchovies are the bomb. Please don't diss the fish 'til you've tried these babies.
fresh herbs - rosemary, basil, parsley and oregano work well
Spread a slice of bread with tomato paste. Drizzle over a little olive oil. Then go crazy with your combinations.
tuna, fetta, capers, parsley, olives and cherry tomato - it's like a nicoise salad sandwich
coppa, chargrilled capsicum, olives, capers and fetta - it's Mikayla's favourite and tastes a bit like a pizza.
The best part about sharing Maltese sandwiches is putting it all in the middle of a table and making a social occasion of it. Laughter is good for the soul, olive oil is full of lipids that our bodies need to make cell walls, and tomato paste is brimming with the antioxidant lycopene. You're better off for eating them!
My Irrigator and I lived together, have children together and the tale is finished.
what do you think of the Maltese take on 'happily ever after'?
do you have a fairy tale of your own?
Disclosure: Bakers Delight asked me to write a recipe for the lunch ideas shared on their website. I'm not being paid to write this post. I'm doing it for the same reasons I write this blog, because I love being creative with food and I relish a challenge.
* Thank you Wikipedia.