Herbs – Fennel

If you love Maltese food, you’ve surely already sampled the famous ‘patata l-forn’, that is, Maltese baked potatoes. This dish, served as an accompaniment to a number of meat recipes, such as Maltese rabbit or baked poultry, has one particular ingredient without which it wouldn’t really have that wonderful taste we all know and love. That ingredient is fennel (bużbież).

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Fennel is an indigenous herb from the carrot family, which is very common in the Maltese islands. It flowers between the months of May and October and featured so much in the lives of the Mediterranean people, that they even used it in their legends and myths. It was for example, thanks to a stalk of fennel that, according to Greek mythology, the hero Prometheus was victorious in stealing a bit of fire from Mount Olympus and the Greek gods. The ancient Romans used fennel as an eye-wash to treat visual problems, as well as a mouth wash to sweeten the breath, while Russian folk healers used fennel to treat colic.

Fennel, which is most abundant during spring and summer in Malta, sports pretty yellow flowers and is a resplendent plant which can reach up to three meters in height. Both the leaves and the seeds of the plant can be used to garnish or flavor meat, fish or cheese, however the traditional tasty touch which is given to certain particular recipes, such as Maltese roast potatoes or pork, can only be derived from the seeds.

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Fennel is even used in certain cocktails or alcoholic drinks. It is, for example, one of the main ingredients in the fermentation of the notorious 19th century green Absinthe.

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Fennel seeds can act as a laxative and so aid digestion, as well as prevent flatulence and treat constipation. This herb contains iron and histidine, an amino acid which can be helpful in the treatment of anemia. Since fennel also contains high contents of fibre, it can also be helpful in maintaining optimal levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Fennel is also rich in potassium, which is vital for a number of important body processes and functions, such as reducing blood pressure, as well as increasing electrical conduction throughout the body, leading to an increase in brain function and cognitive abilities.

Maltese Herbs: Fennel

According to a number of health and medical sources, fennel can also be used to treat hormonal related issues, such as the female menstrual cycle, which can be a sensitive and painful time. Since fennel is anti-spasmodic, it can be a remedy for uterine cramps. It can also regulate out of control menstrual cycles since it contains an essential hormonal substance called ‘emmenagogue’, which stimulates the blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus, and can therefore aid in re-starting irregular period flows.

Preparations made from fennel seeds are also known to be used in cleansing milks to treat oily skin as well as eczema. Leaves can be used fresh, or prepared in an infusion with oil or vinegar. The seeds may also be ground and drunk with boiling water, as well as chewed as a good breath freshener.

This article was written by me and published on LivingInMalta. To access the original version directly, please go here.

Have my Friends Forgotten Me?

Lately, it feels as if I have forgotten how to talk to people.

2015 was an enormously hectic and stressful year (though joyful too). I focused most of my time on my relationship with my boyfriend, on buying property and then later on refurbishing and moving into said property.

Now, in 2016, I suddenly realize that while my life was evolving and going forward in leaps and bounds, in a certain way, I also lost another part of it – the social part.

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As happens to many people when in a stable relationship, slowly but inexorably, most of my friends seem to have faded away from my life, becoming mere shady beings in the corner of my memory. I admit, yes, there were many invitations I turned down. Many girls nights out which I couldn’t go to. Many rain checks on my part. Many tired evenings when I simply did not have the will or the energy to dress up, put on make up and heels, and go dancing and drinking for some 5 or 6 hours. Which is the reason, perhaps, why so many people slowly disappeared from my life.

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These were mostly the fun-buddies – those many friends and acquaintances you have fun with during weekends. The drinking-buddies, dance-partners, funny friends I got drunk with in the small hours of the morning after having written fire and thunder all over the dance-floor.

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I missed out on all of this in 2015, simply because my energy, my time and my money were invested into something else. Which is why, at this moment in time, when I am finally taking a deep breath and looking around me, I am realizing that I am (almost) alone friends-wise.

Not all my friends have disappeared, but those with whom I am daily (or weekly) in contact, are mainly those who are in my same situation in life – that is, couples, people who are shacking up and buying a house together, or young parents.

Is this good, or is this bad? I miss those fun times, however at this point I think that to a certain extent they will never come again.
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Why? Because I’d rather not spend 50 euros (to say the least) on alcohol each evening and invest that money on my house, or save it up for travelling instead. Also because, I freely admit, many of these ‘friends’ I used to have so many good times with were either opportunists, hypocrites, people who wanted to get in my pants, or simply people who were there when everything was nice and happy, but disappeared whenever there was a problem – which I can well do without.

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So, part of me wants to go back and find those ‘friends’ I used to have. Go back to drinking and carousing with no limits. And another part of me wants to just go forward and find new friends who, instead of wasting money getting drunk and partying, would be content to enjoy my company during a DVD night or a picnic, and then later on, have enough money saved up to go on an extended holiday to Scotland or Hong Kong.

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What do you think? Am I getting old before my time, or is this just common sense?

ANNIVERSARY of Edgar Allan Poe’s Mysterious Death!

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity’ – Edgar Allan Poe

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Technically, this was yesterday, but I only realized today.

Edgar Allan Poe, his works, and his life, have always had a special fascination for me. He is the daddy of the horror genre and the supernatural mystery. His poems especially are so full of dark romantic agony, that they called to my trembling brimful heart from a very young age. Poe, who married his cousin a child bride of 13 who died only 2 years after the marriage (she was 15). Poe, who forever after wrote sad poems lamenting his pure innocent lost love. Poe who was given to bouts of depression, took laudanum and was a drunk, but published brilliant detective stories, the first of their kind. Poe, who always had a kind of mythological terror of cats, because for him they symbolized the dark wild part of himself, and who feature again and again in small ways in almost all of his prose-work.

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Poe who mysteriously and inexplicably died 166 years ago, yesterday.

Most people erroneously believe he died of his alcoholism but that is not the case. First of all, though he was a known alcoholic, he is reported to have not touched a drop for ages. Also, the person who found him, alone, confused and wandering, in the dark a week after he had disappeared from his home on the way to New York, said he looked sick but not drunk. Secondly, let us keep in mind that the person who wrote Poe’s biography after his death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold was a hated rival who was trying to portray him as badly as possible. He said he was ugly, dirty and unkept, a drunk, a brute and a savage. To which others, Poe’s doctor included, attested he was not. Unfortunately, there was no autopsy done on Poe’s body, and all his medical documents were ‘lost’, so there is no record of what actually took place.

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Theories abound. Some say he died of a heart-attack. Some that it was suicide (he had already overdosed on laudanum once), which is not possible since he was ‘found’ wondering the streets. Some say it was diabetes or tetanus.

Like Poe’s marvelluous detective mysteries, his death too, remains a mystery. Still he played and still plays a big influence on my mode of thought, not to mention my writing and my tastes. ALL HAIL EDGAR ALLAN POE – MASTER OF TERROR!

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Btw this is a very good article on his death – http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/the-mystery-of-edgar-allan-poes-death-19-theories-on-what-caused-the-poets-demise-166-years-ago-today.html

Enjoy 🙂

An Unconventional Saint Patrick’s – One Day Later!

Alright – I SUCCUMB!

I’ve been reading posts about St Paddy’s, its origins, and how people got shitfaced all through yesterday. I promised myself I wouldn’t post anything relevant on MY blog… but… here we go! lol

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When I was younger (that is, up to three/four years ago hehe), I used to take the day after Saint Paddy’s off. After all – it was impossible to wake up for work at 6am, when you got back home, drunk and disorderly, at 4.30am right? The 18th of March was usually spent asleep and/or vomiting repeatedly in a plastic bucket and/or nursing an enormous headache while trying to nibble at some salty crackers.

Fast forward to the new me – living in my own apartment, with a steady income, a steady relationship and a penchant for loooon looong holidays abroad (therefore needing all the accumulated time-off and vacation days I can spare), and I’m not doing that anymore… HOWEVER…

Seeing that in around a month and a half it’s my bf’s bday, and that I honestly didn’t know what to get him as a bday present, I had the absolutely fantastic idea of gifting him with a weekend break at a great hotel + spa we love and whose food is just awesome, and combine that with St Paddy’s! So, as of tonight, here we go!

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Quite an early surprise for someone whose bday is in May – true, HOWEVER due to other unforseen circumstances, we’ll be quite up to our ears in other stuff in May (more about this later on, as we’re keeping it kind of low-key for now), PLUS we really needed this break – sort of like the calm before the stress-storm hits.

Anyways, to get back to my original issue, since we did not celebrate St Paddy’s yesterday eve like the rest of the planet, as we had to wake up early this morning, we are going to celebrate it in grand style tonight in our hotel room after a luxurious Mediterranean all-you-can-eat buffet. Is there something better than getting drunk in bed with your boyfriend/best friend?

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YES

I just remembered one of the most GODDAMN AWFUL Horror Comedies everrrrr – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgjsTzwlU4

Gods, I just adore honest trailers. Anyways, I’m going to download this as soon as I get home, and WE ARE GONNA PLAY THE DRINKING GAME!!!

Oh boy, so looking forward to that ;p

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Then tomorrow, we can detoxify with another free-for-all buffet (this time, for breakfast), and go relax in the pool and jakuzzi for a couple of hours, before heading to the spa where I have booked us in for a couples’ massage… hmmm…

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