When I sometimes pass in front of a bakery the heavenly smell of baking bread evokes memories of when dad used to come from work carrying with him a freshly baked bread still crackling hot. We kids used to make a feast with a simple loaf of bread. Mum sliced the bread and we siblings were left free to prepare our Hobz biz-Zejt the way we wanted. I was usually allowed to have the round crusty part (il-genba) from which I dug out the middle and filled it up with all the stuff that I could get hold of.
The term ‘Hobz tal-Malti’ makes me conjure up images of this delicious snack eaten on the sand, watching the sun set, with the salty sea smell lingering on one’s skin. Hobz biz-zejt somehow always tastes better eaten at the beach – did you ever realise that? So what exactly is this hobz biz-zejt? If I had to translate this term it would literally mean "Bread with oil” which up to a certain extent is true because drizzled oil is one of the basic ingredients but it has more than just that. And what goes on in this Hobz biz-Zejt??
Butter beans marinated in garlic and oil, olives, marinated vegetables, lettuce, anchovies, tuna, onion slices, peppered cheeselets (gbejniet), capers, marjoram, mint, basil, pickled onions, bigilla, sundried tomatoes, cucumber slices, artichoke hearts and even ham. Yes!! I was told that the Qormi people like having their hobz biz-zejt with ham! My dad who hails from that town often puts ham in it and I can vouch that it is very tasty.