Today I did a spot of cooking, but first I took the bus to Victoria, only ten minutes away, and I searched for and found the Fish Shop where I bought one large steak of fresh tuna, and two fillets of ling, the man in the fish shop offered me a recipe for cooking the tuna, it’s a great recipe he said, you will need oregano and other items, and as he said it he added a bunch of fresh oregano to the bag of fish, all for only €7 which I thought was very reasonable. I then visited a vegetable stall, in Victoria these stalls are at the large car park near the bus terminal, and they are there most days. From what I can see the produce is very fresh. A friendly man helped me to a number of vegetables, as well as lemon, parsley, and an orange that I needed for my recipe. He added a bunch of free celery leaves to my other shopping free of charge, the herbs and vegetables smelled good. I love cooking with fresh herbs, and that is why I am enjoying the cooking quite a bit here, fresh fragrant herbs, especially oregano, rosemary, mint, basil, and sage, as well as tomatoes, olive oil, lemon, garlic, broad beans, green beans, and fish. I may add that the long type of onions also are delicious, I’ve been enjoying those here. To finish the tuna story, I made the marinade as instructed and cooked the fish according to the recipe, and it was really delicious.
The man at the vegetable stall also informed me that the local produce would be best if I was looking for organic, which of course I was and I told him that, and he was selling a lot of local produce which is very nice. Why would one import foods when they can be grown at home.
I was in a sort of garden centre shop as well this morning as I wanted to check what the situation is in Gozo regarding the use of ’roundup’ seeing that now it has been recognised by the WHO that the Glyphosate contained in roundup is a cancer causing ingredient. The nice girl that I was talking to did not know about these matters, she did say that yes they sold roundup and that it is needed as it is very hard to grow produce on Gozo, and this is the second person that tells me that. Some people that I encountered in the last few days have also told me that it would be impossible to grow organically on Gozo because of the drought, I wonder if I am overlooking something, as I never realised that you need more water to grow organically than with using fertilizer/pesticides. It is all very interesting to learn how other countries/people think about these matters.
The produce that we have enjoyed here a lot are the local honey. Depending on what month of the year it is, the honey will taste different and come from different plants. The prickly pear jam was something new to us, for me it is too sweet, but I just got to try new things, so we bought some. The basmatic vinegar of Gozo is delicious, I love it in a tomato dish. The capers, which are grown locally too, are lovely and add a kick to the mixture which all people of the Maltese islands love on toast. Joso, a nice woman I got to know in Malta, a neighbour of ours there, gave me this recipe for a nice breakfast, she told me to cup up some nice tomatoes, or use tomato paste and put that on toast, then add capers and some basil, it does taste delicious.
Another woman in the shop the other day showed me how the Gozitans use their herbs, also mixed with tomatoes and olive oil, left for half an hour to soak it all up, and then served with capers and toasted bread. I am sure that this food is all very healthy, it does taste nice that is for sure.
I still wanted to add some photos of what we were discussing in my last post, about the swales, because today I took some pics in the park which is in the middle of the town of Victoria. A lovely and well kept place where it strikes you how much attention is given to each individual plant or tree. I saw how they use the swales, and water harvesting. They dig a ditch around the plant or tree individually, which then keeps any water near the roots and lets the plant utilize the water to the full. They also make ditches along plants so that even more water is harvested. Though these photos I took in a park, I am sure these methods are being practised in general.
Just a few examples above. Below an example of terraced crop growing, where the water will not just run down the slope but will stay on the terrace watering the crops growing there, or in this case the crops that will be sown here.
I’m enjoying all this getting to know about the life here, so interesting, but also what it does to me is, it makes me think more, and ask more questions to how things are done back in Ireland, where things are on a far larger scale because of the size of the country and the larger population, but still comparisons may be made in certain areas.
One question I still have for Gozo, I still have not seen any cows, sheep, pigs, only three goats, and one chicken, where is all the smallholders livestock? Are they really all inside like I am told? And if so how are they fed. It seems most unusual not to see cows or other livestock on the land. I look forward to getting answers to those questions some day.