A dinner at De Soldanis, recreating a taste from 18th century Gozo
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Besides being known as a Gozitan linguist, historian and cleric, Canon Giovanni Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis was also distinguished for his hospitality and for the refined food which he presented to his fellow enlightened friends at his home in the Cittadella, Gozo.
A reminder, that Heritage Malta, will this weekend, be recreating a taste of this chapter from history in 18th century Gozo – with a dinner at De Soldanis, when the food he was preparing at his house will be on offer to all.
During the 18th Century Malta was undergoing various political and intellectual changes. Various men of letters were interested in a Maltese culture and were keen to insert this culture within a larger European framework.
Heritage Malta explained that one such enlightened gentlemen was the first librarian of the Bibliotheca in Valletta: Agius de Soldanis. His pride in the Maltese language made him a fervent advocate of its qualities.
It said that through his conviction of a rich language and history he left behind him abundant information of a patriotic, ethnographical and linguistic value.
Some of his texts are also important for Maltese culinary history, these form the basis of our menu.
Heritage Malta continued by saying that when the Frenchmen Antione Favray and M. Lacombe visited Gozo they both stayed at de Soldanis’ house at the Gran Castello.
It was an opportunity for de Soldanis to converse with fellow men of letters. Il Signor Canonico de Soldanis, as his friend Ignazio Saverio Mifsud referred to him, was a man who at the earliest opportunity offered his house to scholarly travellers, Mifsud explains that “dinner at de Soldanis’ was molto fastoso, e di gusto.”
It is this dinner that Heritage Malta will be recreating. Both events will start with a brief talk at the Gran Castello Historic House – a unique cluster of late medieval and early modern houses within Gozo’s old castle.
Heritage Malta said that this will be followed by a short walk to the Cittadella Cultural Centre where the sit-down dinner will be hosted.
The historical menu will unravel with a gbejna (local cheese) served with ships’ biscuit, and followed by barley bread slices topped with sardines, freshly diced tomatoes and vinaigrette. Artichoke hearts flavoured with olive oil and garlic are accompanied by a dip of beans, traditionally known as bigilla, and a qassata (small pie) of seasonal vegetables.
Fdewxa is the main dish, consisting of a type of tagliatelli, which de Soldanis described as flat and wide pasta cooked with herbs, legumes and at times milk to thicken the sauce.
The meal will draw to a close with an agiazzata di limone – a lemon sorbet from an 18th century recipe, a coffee sweetened with ilma zahar (orange blossom water), and a slice of Pan di Spagna.
Taking place next Saturday, the 13th at 7.30pm for the dinner and Sunday, the 14th of April at 12.30pm for the lunch. Tickets are €60 per person and available from all Heritage Malta museums and sites, and online by clicking here.