If there’s one Maltese delicacy that we can all get behind, we’re pretty damn sure it’s imqaret. But even though this delicious dessert is the epitome of Maltese cuisine, it has virtually never been made exclusively out of Maltese ingredients – until now.
But before we get into the ins and outs of this incentive, here’s why 100% Maltese mqaret have never been made on our island.
Dates, the main ingredient of the traditional imqaret’s sweet filling, has practically always been imported from North African countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. This was due to the fact that the Date Palm, i.e. the tree that produces dates, was not being cultivated locally – even though the Maltese climate’s perfect for its production.
For these trees to produce their fruits, they need to undergo a process called ‘mechanical pollination’, which involves the manual introduction of a male flower into the female flower. It was only recently that David Debono managed to master this technique and therefore produce dates in Malta.
Debono now produces an ever-increasing amount of Maltese dates, which partly satisfies the local date demand.
Former MEP candidate Peter Agius picked up on this matter and told Lovin Malta why this initiative is actually a pretty big deal in light of the European Union.
“The EU promotes regional specialities through special labels which qualify for EU promotion and protection,” Agius told Lovin Malta.
“One such label is the protected designation of origin (PDO) which necessitates that all ingredients of a given product originate from its region of production. The use of Maltese grown dates can therefore qualify the famous Maqrut as a European PDO.”
Basically, this means that the locally-produced Maqrut can be placed onto the same lists as other world-famous products, from French brie to British Cornish pasties.
“Recently, the EU negotiated a a Treaty which includes the promotion of 100 European products in China. Unfortunately, no Maltese product made it to that list,” Agius continued.
“That hurts me as a Maltese person; the promotion of Maltese products is not only a matter of economic sense, it is also a matter of national pride. We must use our EU membership better, especially when it comes to these opportunities.”