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My Mother's 1972 Maltese Recipe Book: Rediscover Time-Honoured Delights

Explore the rich tapestry of Maltese cuisine with an old Maltese recipe book from 1972, a sentimental journey through Malta’s culinary past.


Table of Contents:



old Maltese recipe book cover

Discovering a Culinary Treasure


Amidst a nostalgic collection of literature and memoirs in my mother's home, a culinary relic was unearthed, 'Recipes from Malta: A Guide to Traditional Maltese Cookery' by Anna and Helen Caruana Galizia.

This old Maltese recipe book from 1972 is a testament to the island's rich gastronomic past, not just a guide but a narrative of Malta's diverse culinary influences.


old Maltese recipe book first page

Maltese cuisine is a tale of time and tradition, with each recipe carrying the essence of its era. It's an odyssey that captures the multicultural essence of Malta, where the kitchen is the heart of every home.


The recipes in this book are not mere instructions; they are stories, each telling a tale of the cultural milieu from which they emerged, reflecting a time when Maltese migrants carried their culinary traditions across the globe.


A Tribute to Tradition and Perseverance


Profs Victor Caruana Galizia, despite his illness, played a pivotal role in the creation of this book. His passion for cooking was shared by many who found solace in the culinary arts, and it was a beacon of relaxation and joy for him.


old Maltese recipe book qara' baghli

The author's tribute to his influence and their mother's down-to-earth cooking lessons underscores the generational wisdom and love woven into these recipes. The book begins assertively, suggesting it could have been titled 'In Defense of Maltese Cookery', reflecting a celebration and affirmation of Maltese culinary traditions.


It acknowledges the Maltese tradition of making foreigners feel welcome, a custom that continues to a great extent today and is mirrored in the recipes meant to be shared with others.


old Maltese recipe book ful tan nanna

The Essence of Maltese Cookery


In the book's introduction, the reference to 'The Gut' in Valletta, with its British-style eateries, marks a time when Malta was a hub for the British Navy, adding a layer of historical depth to the narrative of Maltese culinary evolution.


The authors pose a critical question about the heart of the island's identity: What constitutes Maltese cookery? It's a question that the book answers with every recipe and every tale it tells.


old Maltese recipe book decor

The contrast between Malta in 1972 and today is stark. Once sparse with restaurants, Malta is a burgeoning tourist destination with a dynamic culinary scene. The book depicts a bygone era, where workers returned home for a hearty midday meal followed by a siesta, and evenings were reserved for lighter fare.


The traditional Maltese worker's lunch, with bread filled with local delights, contrasts with the main evening meal, encapsulating a lifestyle fondly remembered by the older generation.


old Maltese recipe book timpana

Malta's Gastronomic Identity and Foreign Influences


The national cuisine is a cornerstone of cultural identity and tourism. The authors lamented the past lack of authentic Maltese offerings for tourists, a trend that has since improved.


With its proximity to Italy, Malta has embraced pasta as a staple, with lasagna being a beloved dish. French and Greek influences are present, with the English impact seen in festive foods like Christmas pudding juxtaposed with Italian favourites like 'timpana'.


The book's ultimate aim is to showcase that while Maltese cuisine has absorbed diverse foreign influences, it retains a distinct character. These recipes celebrate Malta's unique culinary identity, a testament to the island's history, as well as it's gastronomic resilience and individuality.


old Maltese recipe book sweets

Savouring the Flavors of Malta


Undoubtedly, this is a journey through the tastes and times of Malta as told by an old Maltese recipe book. It's a journey that offers more than just food; it's a taste of history, culture, and the resilient spirit of Maltese cookery that has stood the test of time.


If you are interested in Malta's Culinary History and want to know more, look at our article about its fascinating journey through time on the subject.


old Maltese recipe book back cover

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