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Hawn tal-bajtar! Meet Salvu, one of Malta's most recognised prickly pear street vendors
A kind soul!

Jillian Mallia

Traditionally, back in the day Malta’s top way of selling was door-to-door and in the streets. Street vendors were a big thing, but unfortunately the custom seems to have fizzled out, with only a handful of street vendors still keeping the tradition alive. One of these people is Salvu from Zejtun.

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Known on the streets as “il-Begekk,” Salvu is a prickly pear (bajtra tax-xewk) vendor who sells the delicious fruit on the streets of Sliema, particularly during August and around the feast of Santa Marija, according to Kappa Vision.

"I have been selling bajtar for 60 years," he tells Kappa Vision. “Salvu still uses his old dish scale (“kfief”) - one dish for the fruit, the other for the metal weights. He peels the prickly pears for customers to eat on the go using his good ol’ Opinel stainless steel knife, the famous “mus” with the beech wood handle (you know the one!). He tops and tails a line joining the two cut ends, then with seemingly great ease peels away the skin as though he is opening a handbag.”

The bajtra tax-xewk plant

The bajtra tax-xewk cactus plant was first introduced in Malta & Gozo at the end of the 15th century. The plant was and still is usually used as a shield for agricultural fields, providing protection from wind and trespassers.

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The plant makes delicious fruit, known for its pear shape and prickly skin. But if you get past the surface, all you’ll find is the juiciest and sweetest fruit that is the perfect refreshment on a hot summer’s day.

19th June 2021


Jillian Mallia
Written by
Jillian Mallia
A book lover, writer and globetrotter who loves exploring new places and the local gems that the Maltese Islands have to offer. An avid foodie and arts fanatic, Jillian searches the island and beyond for the perfect settings to write about.

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