“Living in a village forever changes your outlook on being an individual.” Or so I thought as I stared out to sea.
“Do you like the ice cream, my little angel. Oh, I do love you, my dear”
“I love you too, Granny”
A boy and his grandmother: the most memorable image from Malta.
A year and a half ago, I took my last sweat-inducing, 15-person crammed ride in the flatbed of an open pickup and said goodbye to the family that had taken care of me for two years. In Malta, I was reminded of my family in Africa and what they taught me about life and happiness.
I didn’t mean for it to happen. I swear. A simple recipe, no translations, no extreme recipe confusion and another late night meal eaten some time between 10:30 PM and 12:00 AM. Only a simple recipe, only a short blog post. BUT then I was stuck on a plane for 2 hours, a bus for another 3 and had nothing to do but to read about bread. And what was originally a simple snack, took on a life of its own. This staple, this grain, emanates an aura of nostalgia, community and days spent on the beach that we somehow have let slip into the past. Not so in Malta, where the baker is still known to you by name and baking is a craft to be learned rather than just a hobby.
Ħobż tal-Malti (Maltese bread) has become a symbol not only of sustenance, but identity and community. No wonder there is both a Maltese Bread and a Hobz biz-zejt page on Facebook.