Say Cheese? Or Peas?

If you had to list the best foods in the world, Maltese bread and the street food snack “Pastizzi” would definitely be in the Top 10.

Pastizzi are palm sized pies made from the flakiest filo pastry and filled with savoury ricotta cheese or mushy peas. They are said to have originated in around 870 A.D with the invasion from North African Muslims during the Arab – Byzantine wars

You’ll see Pastizzi shops on every other street corner, the most famous being Is-Serkin, or Crystal Palace as it’s locally known (thanks to the British Military), up in Rabat, just outside the walled city of Mdina. This authentic café still serves the two varieties and has done for over 100 years; people go there specifically and I know for sure I have ignored the GPS and popped in when it’s sort of on my route. It’s been the place for a post Gianpula nightclub snack for over 30 years. My only gripe is that there isn’t a drive-thru, though a partnership with a dry cleaner and car valet company would be prudent if they did venture this way.

 

The bars that serve these usually offer a glass of tea, made with tinned milk. Sounds weird but it’s really comforting. A take on an Indian chai I guess, without the spices. This combo will cost you about a Euro. The pastizzi themselves are less than half that.

You’ll see the old boys from the village congregating with their buddies, watching the nightclubbers, the city slickers, the delivery drivers, the tourists and the occasional model coming in to try the delicacy. They are shaped differently – the ricotta one is a ‘diamond’ shape, though a crude local will tell you otherwise, and the pea versions are like a clam. The pastry is so crisp and flaky, you get it everywhere. There is a knack to eating them and keeping your clothes clean. See how Andrea has mastered it?

 

These snacks come in mini sizes too and are often served at weddings too and some village vendors have created new versions, the most notable (and very worth trying) are anchovy and tomato, chicken and mushroom and …..Nutella. Take a tip from me, go for the ones that are around the edge of the tray, these are even crispier and another tip? Don’t try to make these at home. You will be disappointed.

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