What would I have done?

It has been a couple of days since a Hungarian student in Malta was spat at and slapped at a bus terminus and then promptly arrested to the sound of clapping. Most agree that this was a racial attack. I do not know what upset me most – the tactless interviewer, the fact that some comments justified the actions, or the fact that the woman who did this was twenty-nine years old, eligible to the same free education system I went through!

There have been interviews, and the Minister herself has apologised to him. Journalists and bloggers have written excellent pieces about the incident which I do not need to repeat. (Herman Grech’s piece and Daphne Caruana Galizia’s piece are pretty good).

My thoughts take a slightly different vein. In mass last Sunday, the priest told us to stand up and be counted, that nowadays we have a tendency to lay low. This made me think back to this racial incident. Had I been in the crowd, what would I have done? Would I have spoken to the police, explained the situation? Would I even have chased after the woman, told her off?

I admit that I wouldn’t have done anything. At most, I would have walked away and written a blog post. There were over 20 shares of the story on my Facebook page that day. I was in the UK, so it is even easier for me to condemn it, dissociate myself from that Maltese woman. But it is oh so easy to share a story, write an emotive blog about morals, rights and wrongs.

Why would I not have stood up to the man? Fear of the woman, fear of the crowd. How sad it is when ignorant people in their aggressiveness have power over people of good will. Ironically this is what is happening everywhere – ignorant people can be bullies. To protect ourselves, we stay back. Acceptance is the best way forward, next time should I find myself in a similar situation, I would not be so quiet in the face of injustice.

How right Edward Burke was

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

 

Christmas, Cardiff and London Round 2

Another year, another adventure!

The adventure is starting super early, with 7th January being the date I hit Northwick Park Hospital and absorb as much as I can in my second placement.

Coming so soon after Christmas has its advantages and disadvantages. I am full of energy to get this year started with a bang, but janaury blues can be a real thing. On the other hand London! (Why can’t I find the soundtrack of Paddington Bear anywhere?!)

I did see Paddington Bear over the holidays and love, love, loved the film. I remember him from childhood stories but the film really brought it out for me. I now believe that he is rooted in my subconscious love of London too.

I digress – I took a couple of photos pre-Christmas madness with all the details that makes my house a Christmas dream during December. Hope you like them.

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This time round I’m based in Harrow, near Wembley Stadium. It is the first time i’m using AirBnB so fingers crossed. The host seems lovely and the area is pretty well stocked with restaurants and shopping. TkMaxx and Primark? Say no more. Since I’m living in London this time round I aim to do the rounds with all my friends and cousins living there this time round. That means a lot of people, dates and rendez-vous!

Of course, there is real work to be done, and after a super experience in Guy’s I have a sense of anxeity! Will it be the same, will I love it , will I get lost, will they like me? Anxious-nervous-excited! This is the last chance to prove myself so the pressure is there to. Alons-y!

Christmas bakes

Christmas cake with icing and marzipan Oh my!

Mince pies and logs (maltese style)

Maple and date cake, almond tort

Who said mum’s baking ever falls short?

Some Baci in here, Mon Cheri over there

And don’t forget the Ferrero Rocher

Don’t forget Welsh cakes or shortbread bakes

Or the snowflake Swiss roll that Me and Manuelo makes.

French Toast nostalgia

First of all, Hi to my new followers!

I was planning to visit Roath Craft Market this morning but  my cold (second one this Winter already!) has made me re-think that decision. It will be there next week after all! My budget rejoices!

To compensate for being stuck inside on a day when the sun has risen, I decided to make myself a childhood favourite. Saturday mornings when we were young were often dedicated to hobbies – I started with Piano, then Art, then Drama/Dance. I could never settle. My sister Victoria had piano and athletics (she was not a give-upper!). These hobby days usually started with french toast breakfasts.

(from flickr.com)

This was inevitably one of the earliest things I learnt to cook, and neighbours used to worry that Mum and Dad would leave my sister and I, and then my little sis Michaela alone at the hob. I remember Michaela getting on a chair to cook it she was still so small! (We have a photo somewhere I am sure!).

In holiday season the neighbours used to come round in their pyjamas and be treated to french toast as well. Eggs, bread and jam galore. It was like a breakfast factory! Such good times. The smell of it still takes me back and brings a smile to my face on days like today when the sun refuses to rise in Cardiff.

Emanuel, being the most creative boyfriend ever, was intrigued by my explanation of french toast. I was equally surprised that he had not had the sweet taste of French toast in his childhood. Together, we make this elaborate version of French toast. As with his lasagna and Cajun chicken, this has become a staple! However I still need him to test the simple childhood version!

To be a tourist guide in your own country!

My holiday back in Malta included a 5 day break for my friends in the UK to visit the island I had been talking about so much, my home. As I was to find out, advertising your home town has its responsibilities and pressure!

We were rather unfair on our respective boyfriends, having hardly ever met each other before, so one obstacle was whether they would get on or whether the trip would be fraught with awkward silences. They were angels (for the most part, punctuality was another issue!) and really got on well with each other. As a group we were perfect.

Malta to me is seen through different eyes than a tourist. This is one thing I immediately had to come to terms with when planning the trip. What I thought they should see was not necessarily what they would be keen to see. Knowing them so well and having planned the trip together I knew what they were looking for. A good time, a relaxing time. When you have a group of 6 people you are unsure whether they would want the same thing at the same time but that was also ultra smooth!

I was so happy that there were no moments of tension, no hanging around and not a moment of boredom. Malta is full of exquisite things to see but having only 5 days, I wanted to be selective. September is also risky but we were blessed with sunny weather hot enough to swim, if I bit too humid (Sophie, Emily and Amy didn’t seem to mind!)

Day 1: They arrived in the morning which was great as it gave them enough time to settle and even enjoy their lovely apartment in Tigne!

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They went for a dip in the pool with a fantastic view and therefore immediately settled into Malta holiday mode. In the evening we took them to Mdina, a sight I didn’t want them to miss. They were captivated by the Silent city, the dark side streets and the views. I was happy with my first decision to take them there. It is a pity we did not have the energy for Fontanella chocolate cake!

mdina gate

Day 2: This was a Gozo dedicated day. I felt my friends would be missing out if they didn;t visit the sister Island. It was good since Emanuel and I love the place so much so it would be a good stop before Emanuel left for Bournemouth. Having Game of Thrones fans with us we first went to Dwejra where Sophie and Rhys could (try to) re-enact the Dothraki wedding. This was followed by a ponder around the market known as It-Tokk after tasting some Maltese food at Cafe Jubilee. The sun was beating down on us and the best place to be was by the sea on the orange sand in a beach known as Ir-Ramla l-Hamra. After being harassed by sunbed hawkers and building sand forts, we all had a swim and a rest.

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The best way to finish a Gozo day trip is with traditional Gozitan Pizza by none other than a lady known as Maxokka. Yum!

Day 3: Waking up late after a night of drinks and chats I felt Valletta was worth a visit. We went for a late lunch at Crave at the Valletta Waterfront and then went up to see the Saluting Battery from the picturesque Upper Barakka.

saluting batteryAfter walking through the grid like city and passing the President’s Palace, the law courts and St. Johns Co-Cathedral we sat down and had lots of Cisk, their favourite beer!

In the evening, my group of friends were in for a gaudy treat. The last feast of the season in Malta is the one in Haz-Zabbar.  I had been talking about feasts and fireworks and Catherine wheels for ages (ironic considering I cannot stand them!) and they were so curious! They were flabbergasted at the loudness of the fireworks, the church decorated with colourful bulbs. One thing that really impressed them was our Maltese gigifogu – an array of mechanised Catherine wheels and other shapes. The lack of health and safety was also a shock as they were lit by 14-year-old boys and sparks were flying and landing at their feet!

Day 4: On Sunday, it was the gospel day of rest and having gone in at 2am the previous night, it was a time to catch up on sleep. Emanuel and I on the other hand were busy doing last-minute jobs and catching up with old friends and relatives before Emanuel left for Bournemouth the following day. The surrealism of my UK friends being in Malta and Emanuel leaving for the UK was not lost on me.

Day 5: With Sadness we couldn’t believe it was the last day of the holiday. It was mostly another day of rest where they were treated to Maltese Hospitality in the form of my parents who feed them and gave an endless source of Cisk. We did manage to pop into Palazzo Parisio gardens, sneak a visit to the Rotunda and also take them to see a Maltese glass blowing demonstration.mdina glass

 

All in all, being a tourist guide was successful. This success was mostly due to having fantastic friends to enjoy it with! Thanks Sophie, Amy, Emily, Nate, Paul and Rhys!

Till next time x

 

Cooking in my Mama’s kitchen (Baked apples with Halva)

The best thing about going home is familiarity. This is most clearly felt for me in the kitchen. Although I was happy with my kitchen in Cardiff, mama’s kitchen is always tops. This is firstly due to memories of mother’s amazing dishes throughout my childhood up till now. One thing  that has become more important to me since I began to enjoy cooking and baking however has been one essential element – Stock.

Would you like to add garlic to your meal? My mum has fresh garlic, chopped garlic, minced garlic and garlic infused oil. You feel your meal is missing a certain something special – open the third drawer to your left and be amazed at the choice of extras you can find! The fridge is another world entirely. A Narnia of goodness.

Maintaining a kitchen like that is a talent and is only an option for the people who truly love cooking. It takes years of dedication and I can only hope that my kitchen would be an inspiration, just like my mother’s. A kitchen like that is what brings on adventurous cooking and mouth-watering dishes.

Today I tried to make a baked apple recipe, spurred by my love of Mama’s kitchen. I had been looking for a similar recipe for ages and couldn’t find one on Pinterest. Below is the recipe I used. Next time I will add more cinnamon and Halva.


 

Baked Apples with Halva

5 apples

5 tablespoons Halva (around 150g) [maltese Helwa tat-Tork]

1 teaspoon cinnamon + cinnamon stick

3 tablespoons sultanas

Handful pecan nuts

1 cup white wine


 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Core the apples and make a wide opening, saving the apple bits cut out. ( I left the peel on)

3. Squash the apple pieces and mix with the Halva ,  cinnamon dust, chopped pecan nuts and sultanas.

4. Spoon into the apples.

5. Place apples on baking paper in a dish. Add a cup of white wine to the dish and place a cinnamon stick in the wine.

6. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.

7. Serve warm with cold custard.

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The Maltese food dilemma

As I was chopping up my last Gbejna (peppered goats’ cheese) today, I couldn’t help but chide myself for not placing more food in my luggage. I am now officially out of Maltese stock, apart from something capers and half a packet of Helwa tat- Tork.

I opted out of taking Twistees and Kinnie with me this time round, but I inevitably still stop myself from ordering Kinnie in any restaurant. Kinnie is an amazing soft drink made with aromatic herbs and bitter oranges. My friends on the course will disagree – they can’t stand the stuff. I cannot for the life of me understand why! I have never (as yet) considered taking Cisk (local beer) up with me  since the beer, ale and cider selection here in Wales is amazing!

 

 

What I miss most about food is the bread. I love the crunchy-soft contrast and the smell of it toasted. It doesn’t and will never compare to sliced bread or any loaf on offer here. However, taking up Maltese bread is limited since I am only entitled one fridge shelf and one freezer shelf (enough to hold two loaves at most!). My sister and I was attempted to take up bread dough to Bahrain where my Dad was working, but the results were a swollen dough that had been activated in the heat and grew too big for the plastic that was holding it!

I think I belong to the cohort of people who live to eat, rather than eat to live. Food in itself is such a sociable, enjoyable thing. Like a Greek friend of mine said yesterday, it is not only the food you miss, but the atmosphere that surrounds a good meal!