Maltese Seasonal Spring Food!

Finally, spring is here! Looking at the calendar, the start of spring is widely acknowledged to be on the 20th/21st of March, that is, that time when light and darkness, the length of the day and night, are of equal measure. After that day, we start to realize that sunset is taking place earlier, and sunrise starts to be further off as well. During this time, the weather slowly starts to get warmer, the grass looks a little bit greener, and a large number of fruits and vegetables come in season.

Unfortunately, it is also a time when allergies seem to get stronger. Our bodies contain toxins, regardless of how healthy we are. This is why spring is also the time to flush out these toxins and one natural way to do this is by eating a lot of those greens which are in season, in order to cleanse our digestive system.

Broad beans, also known as fava beans, butter beans, or ‘ful’ in Maltese, contain an amazing amount of nutrients. In addition to a lot of fibre, they also contain Vitamin K, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and the energy-providing Vitamin B. Ful also contain folate, which participates in building cells and metabolising amino acids. It is essential for growth (therefore needful for children and young people, not to mention pregnant women), cell regeneration, and the production of healthy red blood cells. Added either as a side-dish or mixed into an entrée, they definitely add a boost, not only to your energy levels, but also to your taste. 

Broad beans are the main ingredient in a popular Maltese spring dish – this is Pea and Broad bean soup, that is, ‘soppa tal-ful’ in Maltese, which is generally prepared with oats, vegetable stock, onions, peas, broad beans, milk, mint, parsley, and other herbs.

Artichokes (qaqoċċ in Maltese) are another spring vegetable. These are very beneficial as they can help in lowering blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and prevent inflammation. In particular, artichokes are enemies to ‘bad’ cholesterol and heart diseases, in that they not only reduce lipoproteins (which carry cholesterol in the blood stream), but also increase bile production in the liver, which in turn gets rid of cholesterol in the body. Artichokes also bolster the immune system, as well as being a rich source of fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and other beneficial minerals. Since they have the highest antioxidant levels out of all vegetables, they are also a primary means of defence against the effects of free radicals that can lead to a number of dangerous conditions, such as the creation of cancerous masses.

Filled artichokes, or ‘qaqoċċ mimli’ in Maltese, is a tasty Maltese recipe popular in spring, which consists of filling the leafy artichokes with a mix of tasty ingredients. The ones most commonly used include Maltese crumbled loaf, anchovies, tuna, garlic, capers, olives, and parsley.

For those who are not much into vegetables, strawberries might prove a tastier alternative. In addition to antioxidants, strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fibre, and a number of other important nutrients. This heart-shaped fruit is also good for the skin, since its acidic nature causes it to remove excess sebum, that is, excess oil on the skin. Strawberry juice is also very effective in lightening skin blemishes and acne scars, and it can also be used in face masks to nourish and revitalize the skin. There are only 49 calories in one cup of strawberries, making strawberries a tasty and healthy way to lose weight, The health benefits of the strawberry also include improved eye care, proper brain function, relief from high blood pressure, arthritis, gout, and various cardiovascular diseases.

Generally, I prefer to eat fresh strawberries with milk or cream, however there are also those who eat them dipped in wine, not to mention children, who seem to prefer the old-fashioned strawberry and almond tart. In the end, of course, it is only a matter of personal taste. Strawberries, for me, carry the taste of spring. Chilled and with no extra ingredients or embellishments, they are the perfect snack.

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Monday Morning (What do you think of the GRANNY PORN industry?)

I sigh and prod my face into a mask, trying not to slump. The last session has not gone well. The gynaecologist said that unless I stopped with my current lifestyle, not only would the continual discharge and incontinence continue, but the flow would increase too. I don’t really understand what he said the problem is; a ‘prolapsed cervix due to a weakness in the pelvic muscles’. Pelvic muscles – now THAT I can understand.

Mulishly, I gaze at the veggie-shop beside me. I’m so fed up of eating fruit and vegetables to ‘flush out my system’ as Dr Weiss says. What a load of nonsense. Better have surgery, like Didi, and be done with it. A little nip and tuck is all it takes. Change my way of life? As if.

It’s not that I like my job really, I tell myself, as I cross the street. I don’t. All those sweaty struggling faces trying so hard to look consciously earnest. The newbies are the worse, thinking it’s all real and then unable to do the job with all the lights and coffee-swigging mumblers on the side-lines looking on. Just another day for me – a traumatic experience for them. I guess I’m too jaded at this point. And that, too, comes with the job, as my mother used to say.

The bus stops and I get on, swiping my card and taking a look at the driver. I wonder if he recognises me, though obviously, he will not, exactly, remember where. Slowly, I shuffle along, trying to sit down gingerly, carefully, before the bus re-starts. It hurts to sit down. Not where you would expect though. My back and legs hurt, creaking with too much use. At least I never had the presumption to have any children. That would have ended my career for sure. Don’t know how they manage it – some people. Well, not all, just look at Cheeky Cherry – not even able to look her son in the face anymore. Should have known it would come to that at some point.

Arrived. I stumble past an old guy with sunglasses and a greasy baggy woolen vest thrown over frumpy trousers. Blearily he stares at me and looks away. Probably more of an interracial underage aficionado. No loss there. I round the corner, and enter the studio, a dim shabby building squashed between a hippy record store and a run-down block of apartments. Bathroom, then make-up and a look at the rack of underwear prepared for today.

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I glance at the three pimply teenagers waiting around hopefully, then spying me, with widening eyes, grabbing at the pill provided to strengthen their resolve, stiffen their spines, and everything else. No alcohol though. That would defeat the purpose. I wave a hello at Doris, the washed-out fluffer, as zombie-like, she coughs her usual mucus-riddled cackle, and sashay along towards the toilets, mockingly ogling the thin terrified wannabes. Bad, bad Nancy. Wasn’t nicknamed ‘Naughty Nancy’ for nothing.

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© Darkly Dreaming Moonsong

This short story was sent to Keith Kreates as part of his weekly challenge – https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/36207183/831896472