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Red Onion Focaccia

A focaccia is a type of flat bread that is generally served with herbs and simple toppings. It's a very close cousin to pizza but is made slightly differently (and so it follows that the end result is also a bit different). There's many variants of this across the Mediterranean (the French fougasse is also a relative) and it's thought that the focaccia originated with the Etruscans (who were super cool people, but I'll bore you about them another time:P). As always, there are countless variation in Italy and the final product, topping and consistency of dough depend on the all-important regional variation.

Since I'm Maltese and therefore, by definition, a hybrid, I feel no particular loyalty to any one region and am happy to indiscriminately eat everything - in the name of research and mutual understanding, of course;-)
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I'm easily amused but...

So I now have a Blackberry phone and I'm very happy with my new toy. It alleges to have a feature called "Voice dialling", so you say "Call " and it's meant to call. EXCEPT that I don't think anyone ever accounted for the insanity that is a Maltese accent;-) I've wasted enormous amounts of time and I think the possibilities for drunk dialling are endless.

Soooo, wanna give me your phone number?:P

Stupid of the day

So while waiting for the car's MOT we repaired to Starbucks. Not because any of us is fond of that awful concoction they try to dignify by the name of coffee, but simply because it was the only place around. Anyway, there I am standing in line for a mug of murky stuff, when two middle-aged women prance in behind me and proceed to try to be posh and loud. They make a great show out of not being able to pronounce "latte", fondly imagining that they were being all cute and endearing. Frankly, I find willful ignorance slappable, but that's by the by.

Anyway, as they're busy making a racket (complete with faux posh accent, which sounds like having too many marbles in one's mouth), one asks the other "Are you having anything to eat for breakfast?"

Idiot 2: No, breakfast is for fat people.

Less than a split second later she looks at the server and goes "Oh and one double chocolate muffin."

I tell you, it took a lot of effort not to look the server in the eye, because we both had a really hard time keeping our faces straight.

Lamb chops and harissa

My love of harissa comes from my father, who has never been known to meet a hot food he doesn't like. This love was further cemented when we lived in Tunisia. Harissa is a type of hot, red sauce or paste mainly made out of chili peppers and garlic (and a complex array of other spices). It is ubiquitous across North Africa, where it has many uses. Virtually everybody eats it, from babies to the elderly. It's eaten as a dip, added to soups etc. In Tunisia, it features in practically every meal. Indeed, I would feel cheated if I had a meal without harissa. There are as many recipes as there are people, really, and each country produces its own distinct version.
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Meh, insomnia

Why is it that in Malta I managed to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and here I just cannot sleep? At all? Mind you, there I had to be up by 7am, 7.30 at the latest, or the heat would just eat you up anyway, but still... I slept and woke up feeling rested. Gah. I'm really grumpy now.

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Baking tips

So you know how everyone and his dog has their favourite baking tips. Well, here's mine.

If you don't want flour all over yourself and the kitchen and batter in your hair, do NOT:

1. Hold the sieve really high while gesticulating, because you're singing opera and have reached a high note and

2: Do NOT drop the bowl because you're dancing and you just kind of let it slip.

Mind you, I don't think I can quite avoid nr 1. I'm Maltese, it is genetically impossible for us to talk without gesticulating.

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Stuffed roasted peppers

I love peppers (capsicum), I can eat them every day. I eat them raw or cooked, stuffed, sauteed, roasted etc. There's many recipes for stuffed peppers. This one is normally served with fish. Having just come back from home (where I can eat real fish that doesn't make me sick), I was reminded of this yummy recipe so I thought I'd share.

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Festa, fireworks and photos:)

So yesterday the festa was enormous fun. The solemn churchy bit happens tonight, but the eve of the feast is a time to have fun, drink beer and watch fireworks. I bumped into so many people I knew from ages ago and I really felt at home. We were out till 1am, enjoying the fireworks and the company. Now I'm munching nougat (purchased from the festa... see photos) and generally doing sod all.

For photos and videos of the whole thing, go here for the Flickr set or, easier to navigate, click here for the slideshow.

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Off to the festa tonight

So today, well tomorrow really, is the feast of St Mary. It is celebrated in 7 towns and villages across Malta (the Virgin in her other incarnations is celebrated in even more places). Tonight being the eve of the feast, I'm off to Mosta, where I was born. We'll watch fireworks, drink booze in the name of religion and generally join in the ribaldry. I'd have liked to see another town's fireworks, but I haven't been to the feast in Mosta for nearly five years and nostalgia is hitting me hard. In fact, this morning I took Mike down to the valley where I spent a happy childhood playing silly games.

Separately, tomorrow is the anniversary of Operation Pedestal, the success of which was attributed to St Mary since the SS Ohio limped into Grand Harbour on August 15th. I remember everyone celebrating this, year after year, except for grandma, who took a more sober approach. On that day, while bombs were being dropped on Grand Harbour, her husband (who was with the RAF) was risking life and limb to pick up injured pilots and seamen from Grand Harbour and surrounds. While everyone cheered the convoy, grandma was desperately trying to find news of her husband. Fortunately they both survived and grandpa celebrated his 90th a few days ago. Since then, they celebrated this anniversary by going to mass and giving thanks to St Mary.

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Ahhh leisure

I'm having a ball so far. Yes it's hot, some days it's like being in an oven. Today was fine. Hot but not particularly humid so you just sweat, rather than sweat and die. This suits me perfectly. It feels great to feel the heat on my skin again.

Meantime, I'm getting used to siestas again. This life of leisure is a completely new feeling and I'm not sure how to deal. I know it won't last (which is good, or I'd go crazy), but meantime I need to keep learning how to relax.

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