Herbs & Spices – The early use of herbs and spices is rooted in tradition and many wars and battles have been fought to secure a good supply. Spice trading in the Mediterranean region dates back to over 5000 years and early trading routes from the East were established more than 2000 years ago. Originally herbs & spices were used to disguise the taste of food that had gone rancid. Their later use in Mediterranean cooking owed as much to their preservative properties as to their appetising fragrances. Basil, fennel, wild thyme, red chilli peppers, bay leaves, garlic & parsley, the most common, are all traditionally blended to flavour Maltese culinary dishes.
Salt – Since early times, salt was used to preserve food and an important trading commodity. During the Roman empire, salt rations given to Roman soldiers were known as “salarium argentum”, the forerunner of the English word “salary”.
Salt was extracted from the Mediterranean sea by natural evaporation from the scorching sun and preserved in terracotta jars. In Malta and Gozo, salt pans, dug out of limestone rock and dating back to the Roman times, can still be seen in various locations. Today salt crystals are still extracted using the same traditional methods.