During the forty days of Lent, Randan in Maltese, in times gone by more than today, fasting was not only recommended but obligatory and strictly monitored. Woe betide he who was found eating meat for he was dragged before the Inquisitor and severely punished, even locked away.
Despite being surrounded by the sea fish was scarce during late winter and early spring, and what was available was certainly beyond the financial means of the masses.
Therefore, preserved fish was consumed in stews or mixed with pasta. To substitute the local supply of salted tuna, mackerel in brine and similar, large quantities of anchovy, salt cod and herring were imported and the good housewife would prepare her thrifty meals with these ingredients along with seasonal vegetables, olives, and capers, flavoured with fresh herbs from her little patch of land or pots in her courtyard. For sweets delicious pastries were concocted like Kwarezimal, named after the Italian name for Lent, Quaresima (forty days) is free of fat or butter, yet flavoured with citrus zest, nuts, honey and orange blossom water.
We hope you enjoy these dishes which have filled many a Maltese tables over generations.