The phone rings, it is Mum, “what are you doing tomorrow?”
“Not much, why?”
“Dad is making qassatat, want to come over?”
It is one of the conversations that has always and will end the same. As long as my family is cooking then I will be there eating, indulging and spending those lazy afternoon’s at Mum’s place.
I have literally grown up in my Mum’s kitchen. Her beautiful red kitchen is the centre of her house and the soul of our family. We have spent so many occasions together right there, cuddled around her kitchen bench, sitting across the table, talking, laughing and doing what we do best – food.
I have very fond memories of many Good Friday’s spent at her place making Maltese figolli, Dad bringing in extra tables from the garage to accommodate all the people and all the food. Countless summer nights spent outside with my cousins enjoying a snapper cooked on the barbeque, while the kids run around and play. And if you have ever watched my Facebook feed then you would have already seen her famous paella and just how perfect it is to share that together.
Spending the afternoon at Mum’s watching my parents go through the old worn rituals of making qassatat grounds me. Days like these have a way of making me forget the world and simply sink into a place where the only thing that matters is food and family.
I watch the way my Dad kneads and forms the dough, the way Mum effortlessly loops the pastry together. The method and rhythm of their hands flows with hundreds of years of tradition. Sometimes it amazes me how easy they make it look. I am almost afraid to have a go myself – I am bound to mess it all up and disappoint tradition.
But I guess I can’t hide behind my fears forever, it wouldn’t be fair. My boys deserve to grow up loving Nanna’s house, but also to grow up having that same feeling, that same sense of soul about our house and our kitchen.
I love watching PJ steal some pastry when no one is watching. I love how he breaks his qassatat open to eat the entire filling first and then the pastry last – just like I do. I love AJ pestering my Dad to let him help, even though he slows down the assembly line and gets in everyone’s way – my Dad always makes room for him and lets him have a go.
It is moments like these that I crave for. The qassatat may be little parcels of heaven that melt in your mouth, but they mean so much more. They are part of my chain and that chain defines me, it gives me strength and purpose.
I find that I can so easily get caught up in the whirlwind of life, sometimes drowning in society and expectation. Yet when I sit still long enough, pause for long enough, the voice within always seems to be whispering the same hymn. On some days there is nothing better and nothing else that I need, but to be sitting in Mum’s kitchen eating qassatat.
Have you ever tried Maltese qassatat? Do you have a special family dish?
What brings your family together?