Malta

Mercatini dell’usato e di beneficenza a Malta

Adoro visitare mercati, mercatini delle pulci e dell’antiquariato. Quest’ultimi a Malta sono i più numerosi e sono tutti gestiti da associazioni di beneficenza in favore di cani o gatti randagi. Ogni qualvolta visito uno di questi luoghi, il primo pensiero che mi assale è sul numero di oggetti di cui prima vogliamo assolutamente circondarci per poi successivamente sbarazzarcene. Non riusciamo ad ammettere quanto siamo ricchi. Si ha voglia sempre più spesso di cambiare mobilio, abiti, attrezzature e così per pochi soldi si trovano oggetti praticamente nuovi. Da anni vi acquisto abiti e non solo. Lo faccio in primo luogo perché sento che nel mio piccolo contribuisco a immettere meno immondizia non riciclabile nell’ambiente e quando acquisto per beneficenza so che i miei soldi verranno spesi bene da persone motivate per delle buone cause.

Foto di Phad Pichetbovornkul su Unsplash

Adoro girovagare nei charity shop di Malta, dove sebbene di ridotte dimensioni, ce n’è almeno uno per villaggio. Non tutti sono bene organizzati ma vale la pena darci occhiata. Sono solitamente aperti tutte le mattine, qualcuno anche nelle prime ore del pomeriggio. Qui le signore volontarie sono sempre di buonumore. Adoro esplorare questi luoghi perché sono davvero educativi, e mi riferisco in particolare ai mercatini delle pulci e dell’antiquariato. Lì si trovano oggetti che vedrei altrimenti visitando un museo etno-antropologico, come certi registratori, radio, attrezzi da cucina, cartoline e francobolli, giocattoli e libri. Mi ha emozionato vedere recentemente anche una scatola piena di musicassette scritte a mano.

Credo di cuore che questi luoghi dovrebbero essere promossi per l’alto potenziale culturale e di aggregazione sociale, in particolare per il pubblico giovanissimo.


C’è però di mia conoscenza un solo mercato delle pulci e dell’antiquariato che si svolge ogni domenica mattina a Birgu (o Vittoriosa) dove mi piace andare a rovistare, ma solo in certi periodi dell’anno. Il luogo del mercato e’ una sorta di campetto sportivo. Quando ha piovuto il suolo è fangoso per cui poco praticabile sia per il visitatore ma soprattutto per il venditore che non può disporre a terra gli oggetti. Meglio visitarlo presto in quanto dalle ore 11 alcuni cominciano a mettere via e disfare la bancarella. In Agosto fa così caldo che non ci vado mai. Sembra un mercato nato spontaneamente e rimasto tale. Riesco a distinguere chi ha un po di antiquariato, chi ha comprato in blocco rimanenze di magazzino e chi si presenta con le proprie cose personali, magari disponendole alla rinfusa su un telo. Magari un venditore sullo stesso piano o plaid ha stoviglie antiche e scatole di caricabatterie, piccoli elettrodomestici e giocattoli. Oppure libri e riviste accanto ad aggeggi metallici da ferramenta che non saprei come meglio definire. Generalmente non vedo molte facce da turista, pochi giovani e famiglie, ma di gente ce n’è. Mi piace andarci perché è un luogo che stimola la fantasia e mi tiene concentrata. Proprio perché sono accostati fra loro certi oggetti che non hanno una connessione logica, quando sono in cerca di qualcosa in particolare mi tengo concentrata sul tipo di oggetto che voglio trovare, per esempio focalizzo sulla forma o il colore dell’oggetto che mi aspetto di vedere. Altrimenti rischierei di tornare a casa con in borsa un altro oggetto e la mia casa ha dimensioni alquanto ristrette!

Il mio fantastico manichino

Non sempre sono fortunata al primo colpo ma mi reputo abbastanza soddisfatta dei miei acquisti sostenibili: un prezioso manichino, che ha di certo migliorato l’esposizione delle collane che cucio a mano e che puoi vedere su www.mediterraneanartcrafts.com. Una simpatica scatola per le spolette fatta a mano dalla moglie del venditore, che era un po scollata ma l’ho rimessa in sesto. Due fantastici reggilibri in ebano a forma di elefante. Uno dei due ha perso le zanne ma sono ugualmente belli. Ho poi trovato dei piatti in porcellana cinese con decori aborigeni australiani ancora nella loro scatola originale, un portalettere e cornice per foto a forma di scaffale di libri, della bigiotteria da riciclare, vinili e giradischi in ottime condizioni, piante grasse e altri oggetti utili per la casa. 

Alcuni di questi tesori non li troverò mai al centro commerciale.

Malta

Charity shops and flea markets in Malta

I love going to markets, flea markets and charity shops (called thrift stores in the US). Visiting places such these, you get an idea of how wealthy we are. People get rid in a larger part of new or slightly new objects and you get them for peanuts. I often buy clothes as well. In this way, you are contributing to the environment. When buying from a charity shop you’re helping other people or animals who need food and care. These places are educational. There are materials you can also find in anthropological museums, such as video recorders, handwritten music cassettes, kitchen tools, old stamps and postal cards, old toys…I strongly believe they should be promoted more for cultural and social events, especially for the younger public.

Photo by Phad Pichetbovornkul on Unsplash

In Malta, there are several charity shops spread all over the island. But if you want to see more curious items and treasuries there is a weekly flea market in the old village of Birgu (now called Vittoriosa) where I go in certain periods of the year. I avoid it after it rained because the pavement becomes muddy, and during the heat of August. This market is a mixture of secondhand items, antiques and knick-knacks and has placed every Sunday morning from early hours till not later than noon. Comparing to Ballaro’ (Palermo), Porta Portese (Rome) or other flea markets I have visited in the past years, this one is attended by few tourists. Visitors are mostly adult people, Maltese couples or singles but also foreign families living in Malta and British pensioners. Sellers are aged 50+. It looks like a neighbourhood garage sale. Few of these sellers keep items in order on a plaid. Some don’t even use it. In the same space, you can find fine decorated plates and mobile chargers, old home appliances and magazines. I like going there because I keep myself focused on it as visual exercise. Do you remember during childhood playing memory games? I feel to be more or less in that spirit.

They should be more promoted

for cultural and social events,

especially for the younger public.

 I have found there my precious mannequin, where I take pictures of every necklace I make. Then a handmade sewing box made from the seller’s wife, two ebony elephant bookends, cute photo frame and letter mail holder for book lovers, two aboriginal Australian plates, Maltese exercise books, a colored terracotta vase, a colored tin and lately a bunch of metal chains and shells for jewelry. Some time ago I have also bought a like-new record player and some succulent plants. if you live in a tiny flat, browsing in markets like this it’s hard. I have been tempted on many occasions, so I always do my best to be selective and choose only useful and needed items.

My necessary secondhand mannequin

Last visit to the Birgu Sunday market was a failure for me. I was looking for some jewellery to reuse, woollen yarns and a cute small box or container, possibly a wooden one but what all I found it was a new corkboard to pin my notes for 0.50 euro cent only. It went better on Saturday morning at a charity shop. There I got plenty of vintage buttons, a wicker basket to fill with pine cones I painted last year for Christmas and two glittered fabric flowers as decoration for the holiday season. 

Have you ever been in such lovely places?

If your answer is “NO” I will give you

Malta

Roasted Aubergine Parmigiana

When it comes time to cook something tasty, the first thing I have in mind is an aubergine. In Sicilian, we call it “milinciana” and we have plenty of choice of recipes depending on its shape and size.


Sometimes at work, we spend our lunch break together and my colleague had the idea to ask me and our foreigner coworkers if we wished to cook a dish of our country to share among us. I love cooking and instantly replied: <yes, of course!> but I thought, what could I cook at home and bring at work for a stand-up meal?

My mum has almost taught me all I know about cooking. But I rarely cook because as a good Sicilian I enjoy more doing it when there are a lot of people. I practised and improved during my university studies when me and some friends used to prepare a dinner once a month up to 20 people.
I brought at work two trays and nothing left, everybody loved it. To be honest, I spent 5 hours for the whole process because we were 38 people and I wanted to make sure everyone could try it. I had not minded cooking all that time. I much rather enjoyed the hour we chatted about our recipes and relaxed.
The following recipe would be for 4 people as the main course.

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash and by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

To fill up a medium oven tray what you need is:

1/1.2 Kg= 4/5 aubergines
1 can chopped tomato
370 ml tomato sauce
200 gr chopped mozzarella
60/100 gr grated mix parmesan (60%) and pepato (40%) cheese
1 medium chopped onion (better red or gold)
5/6 tsp breadcrumbs
basil leaves, olive oil, salt

  1. Start peeling the aubergines, then slice them slightly less than 1 cm and grill. TIP: once ready, put the aubergines in a large dish and paint them just a bit with olive oil and salt. So later they will be still soft.
  2. In the meantime, you can chop the onion and in a pot put with some olive oil and heat it. Once the onion will be golden add the tomato (both types) and cover. Sometimes turn the sauce with a spoon. In 20 minutes it will be ready. Then add salt and full basil leaves.
    3.When all ingredients are more or less at room temperature heat the oven at 200C and take cheese and breadcrumbs. Prepare the oven dish (avoid a glass one):
  3. First, fill the dish with a scoop of tomato sauce and spread 1 or 2 spoons of breadcrumbs all over. After spreading homogeneously the aubergines, add some cheese (all types). Put again some tomato sauce and do like that till you will fill it all. TIP: breadcrumbs are useful on top and at the bottom of the dish.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and wait at least 30 min to serve.

Buon appetito!

Malta

Learning languages

Learning a language has always attracted me but I believed it was secondary in my life plans. I have given priority to my specific studies and work career and never thought to move abroad. But life is incredibly changeable and it is better to grab new opportunities when they arise.

Looking back to my first days on the island of Malta years ago,I can remember how insecure I was in speaking another language for the first time in life. I must say that I studied English language and culture at school, nearly twenty years ago. What happened after that I rarely practised it until landing in Malta.

Having started a new job, all of a sudden I have realized to be able to speak English twelve hours a day.

During the first weeks I was mentally exhausted. I found out that changing language was very tiring because I was translating word for word from Italian. Slowly this kind of stress went down and I acquired more self-esteem.

Today I keep revising English, but after some time since landing on the island, I have come up with the idea to learn the other official language of this country. This is why I guess, Maltese clearly also derives from my native local language, Sicilian. I realized it just after listening to some people talking on television during a movie. The whole history, culture and folklore of the two islands are strongly connected. It would be obvious to notice when looking at a map, but when you are inside it, personal feelings and reactions are different. 

It has already been one year since I started learning the archipelago original language, that is a mixture of semitic languages coming mostly from North African Arabic, Italian and English. It is indeed quite complex for me to conjugate the verbs and some names as well, since there are quite as such irregularities, but I am confident I will be able to speak it. 

As in every language we want to learn, time is our friend. 

I attended an extensive course last year, about 90 lesson hours plus a short course where it was asked of me, as a writing exercise, to prepare some slides relating to my culture and origins. It is a bit complicated if you do not have a Maltese keyboard. 

In fact the Maltese alphabet is the only semitic language in Europe using the Latin alphabet, with some characteristics. They read ħ as for “hello”, while h is silent. Letter g is read as the word “great”, whereas ġ as the word “general”.

They also have two z, one with a dot on top and one without. Their ċ can be read as  “city”. Their particular letter is then pronounced “ain”. They consider it as a single consonant.

Comparing it with the English alphabet, I have encountered less difficulties in reading, apart from words containing the letter Q. Looking at its phonetic symbol: /ʔ/ it has a particular pronunciation.

I had to work on it, but now I am quite sure about pronouncing it quite well.