Food & drink
Both delicious, but very different: don't confuse the Maltese and Gozitan ftiras!
Just try one of each!

Melanie Drury
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Ask for a ftira in Malta or go to Gozo and do the same, and you’ll get something entirely different!

I'm a local and the first time I realised there may be some confusion was when I stumbled upon a blog by foreigners living in Malta who were attempting to explain it. Bless them. They tried, but they got a few things messed up. 

For example, ftajjar is merely the plural of ftira and not a distinct version of ftira.

But isn't it funny how, living in a place, you tend to take some things for granted? 

Breaking the dilemma: what is what

The Maltese ftira

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Ftira in Malta simply refers to a type of Maltese bread. It is either a big O-shaped flat bread or a smaller bun-sized version. Both types will generally be featured in the traditional hobz biz-zejt, commonly referred to as a tuna roll in English.

This generally consists of tomato paste, olive oil and canned tuna plus any variety of Mediterranean ingredients, such as olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, pickled onions, fresh lettuce, broad beans, Gozo cheeselets (gbejniet) and others. This is very much considered to be a typical Maltese food icon.

The Gozitan ftira

Now, Gozo is a much smaller island, yet, it has its very own food specialities. This delicious savoury snack originates in Gozo and is simply not available in Malta. It is surprising how nobody ever tried ‘stealing’ it, and it's an absolute must-have for anyone visiting Gozo!

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Indeed, the Gozitan ftira is nothing like the fresh sandwich found on the larger island. It is better described as a traditional pizza made by a baker with bread dough. The ingredients are placed on top of the flat bread and it is all cooked together in a baker’s oven. Typical ingredients include a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, onions and fresh tomatoes plus any choice of Mediterranean ingredients. The most traditional version also features olives, capers and tuna or anchovies.

Where to find the best ftira

The ftira is widely available in both Malta and Gozo. You can buy bread from any bakery and there are many versions of hobz biz-zejt, including the convenient make-your-own sandwich at village bars popular with workmen stopping by for lunch.

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But the Gozitan ftira - or ftira Ghawdxija, or ftira t'Ghawdex - is practically a trademark of two special bakeries: Maxokk and Mekrem, both located in the tiny village of Nadur in Gozo. To be fair, several restaurants also offer the Gozitan ftira but it is just not the same and, truth be told, these are the only places really worth trying.

These two bakeries, situated within walking distance of each other in the lazy sun-baked streets of Nadur, have turned to the Gozitan ftira into their speciality. There are no tables; you order your ftira in the hole-in-the-wall establishment; and wait outside for it to bake. You might be amused to share the space with a lazy hen out for a stroll from a nearby farm. Both bakeries sell ftira ready-to-eat or a half-cooked version designed to be finished at home.

But, whatever their differences, both styles of ftira are delicious so make sure you try them both!

15th February 2019


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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