22 July 2014
This morning, like most, I was woken by the sound of the fruit and vegetable van pulling up my street (and beeping his horn loudly to announce his arrival!). Part of the charm of Malta is it's 'olde worlde' feel. I'm talking about the way you can find a blacksmith or a cobbler in every town and most of the shops are small family-run places rather than extensions of some corporate entity. Another manifestation of this is the vans that trundle through every suburb and set up as fruit & vegatable stalls in what seems like every second back-street around.
Traditions are well preserved in Malta. Whether it be attending one of the many Maltese Churches on a Sunday, or attending the annual village festa, the Maltese truly remember the ways things were done in the past. Over a 100 years ago, basic needs were supplied by local farmers who would serve a particular district, typically on horse drawn carriage, offering the locals a variety of fruit, vegetables, bread, and Maltese specialties like imqaret. This service is still being practiced today, the horse drawn carriage, replaced by flat-bed vehicles.
These vans, and there are a lot of them, deliver their goods directly from local farms, and at a very decent price. It is well worth buying some of your groceries should you come across one of them. However, these days you can also find many vans selling somewhat less healthy products through Malta’s winding streets.
Listen out for the chant of "Ċikkulata! Krema!" blaring out from rooftop speakers. If you hear it then you are not too far away from one of the many doughnut vans that regularly do the rounds around Malta. Not quite as healthy as the fruit and vegetable vans but a delight none the less.
The Maltese people love their bread. The visitors to Malta also love Maltese bread. Fortunately, you are never far away from some. The bread vans visit all districts daily offering various different types of bread such as the Maltese Ftira fresh from the oven. You have to be up quite early in the morning to catch this one though.
With many large supermarkets in other countries setting up their own ‘local’ stores to monopolize the high street, it is truly refreshing to see local businesses still thriving in Malta.
Author: Adam Claffey