Bread and Oil

Whilst most days play host to hours of what might seem to be an unproductive sense of nothing there are also those dividing lines, those days that fill our lungs with fresh air and break the monotony. Such days might be festivals or parties, BBQ’s or walks in the countryside. They could equally be days where we meet someone new or try a food we have never tried before. These latter options are more the kind that I would like to promote, they follow more in this ideology of constant learning. Often we can settle into a groove where we dance to the same music everyday and we don’t step out of an established friend circle. But a lot can be missed out on by living this way.

One fortnight ago I visited Gozo with the Grima family. We went to several farms and for the first time in my life I ate oranges from an orange tree. We were told about the profit margin that the middlemen were accruing from the farmers goods. In exchange for a crate of fruit the farmer receives around 20 cents. This is around 2 cents per kilo of oranges. In Malta a kilo of oranges currently costs around 3 kilo. The discrepancy in earnings here is quite outrageous. Whilst the middleman might argue that they deserve more money for actually selling the goods, it is the farmer that spends his whole life working towards these crates of fruit. The pay-off is not good, but the farmers we spoke to were in love with their land.

For lunch we ate a miniture version of hobz biz zeit. The title literally means, bread with oil but over time the dish must have evolved from that to become a sandwich containing tuna, olive oil, tomato, olives, and capers. The recipe is quite versatile and can change between families quite a lot. Still it is a national food and deserves to recognised as such.

More recently the city of Valletta has been celebrating the feast of St. Paul. This has involved the carrying of a large statue in parades around town. 8 men need to carry the statue which weighs so much to even be a burden for a troupe eight strong of burly men. The crowd that followed the statue for much of the day was very small however as the night settled in the crowds swelled and Valletta was busy with the shouts and stink of drunks. The energy of the whole event changed dramatically but from an outside perspective the religious fervor for the event didn’t diminish throughout the whole experience.

See the Festival Parade, my own photographs, as the statue is carried around the city.

The crowd was of a majority male demographic and there were not a large number of young adults or teenagers present at the event.

On a slightly different topic I have began to couchhost on http://www.couchsurfing.org. The experience so far has been very good and I would recommend it to anyone with a yard of space that could be used for couchsurfers to crash in. Check it out.

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