Maltese cuisine reflects Maltese history, it shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well as Spanish, French, Maghrebin, Provençal, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences. The traditional Maltese stewed rabbit (fenek) is often identified as the national dish.
Tradition Maltese food is based around the seasons. Some must try dishes are Lampuki Pie (fish pie), Rabbit Stew, Bragioli (beef olives), Kapunata, (Maltese version of ratatouille), and widow’s soup, which includes a small round of Gbejniet (sheep or goat’s cheese). Some of the most common snacks are ‘hobz biz-zejt’ (round of bread dipped in olive oil, rubbed with ripe tomatoes and filled with a mix of tuna, onion, garlic, tomatoes and capers) and pastizzi (flaky pastry parcel filled with ricotta or mushy peas).
Wine production in Malta dates back over two thousand years to the time of the Phoenicians. In the beginning of the 20th century Marsovin and Emmanuel Delicata wineries were established. In the 1970s wine production became more serious and international grape varieties began to be planted. After joining the European Union in 2004 protective levies were lifted, pushing the producers to focus on higher quality wine production, with Marsovin especially focusing on fine DOK wines.
Currently there is a growing demand for Maltese wines and some of the wineries resort to using imported grapes because agricultural areas are severely limited on the islands by the growth of settlements and tourism. There is no official wine route but a wine festival is held in Valletta. In 2005 630 tonnes of wine were produced on the islands.