When I think about my Dad, the first thing I think of is his hands. Strong hands. Scuffed and worn from a lifetime of work in the building industry. Hands that are starting to show signs of turning sixty later this year. Hands that are always willing to help. Dad’s hands are his most distinctive feature. These same hands that hold a hammer by day, also knead, whisk and bake the most incredible desserts by night.
In my family’s kitchen, Mum takes the credit for cooking the family meals. However, if there is a dessert, cake, crumble or slice to be made, Dad is the one wearing the apron, rolling up his sleeves and wearing the hat of head pastry chef!
Easter is my favourite time of the year for his cooking. Maltese culture and tradition calls him out of his work boots and into the kitchen to cook up delicacies that we are only privileged to enjoy once a year. From one Easter to the next, we all wait in anticipation for Dad’s Maltese figolli. In our big family, he is famous for his figolli and while I have tried many others, none are better than my Dad’s.
Walking through the door of my parent’s house last weekend, I was overwhelmed with the sweet, buttery smell of pastry. A pastry that my Dad had combined with his own hands. Smooth, but not too soft. Lingering in the air was the aroma of roasted almonds.
The figolli sat on the bench. All neatly packed and labelled. Each one bearing delicate piped icing decorations. The little chocolate eggs iced onto the top, the final touch. At just the sight of them, my mouth was watering. The taste of Maltese figolli is incredible.
They are the perfect harmony between a moist, sweet filling and a soft, crumbly pastry. Yet, I would have to wait till Easter Sunday to eat mine. That is the rule and in my parent’s house – a rule that can never be broken.
I don’t need a cup of coffee or tea to accompany some. They are perfect all on their own. I prefer mine without the piped icing. Dad makes some without and I love them so much – I hide them away and refuse to share!
One Easter, I will have to make an effort to spend the day in the kitchen with Dad. To learn his little tricks and ways.
One day, I hope to be able to make them myself – and I’ll be crossing my fingers that they taste half as good as my Dad’s.
Does your Dad have any secret talents?