Introducing your other half to the family is a daunting experience at the best of times. Introducing your foreign other half to the family calls for an entirely different level of social skills.
You are essentially the cultural/social/emotional translator of the entire operation. Yours is a delicate juggling act of tempering a tidal culture-shock wave whilst trying to convince your people that – this guy/girl is really special.
Here’s some salient bits of info you should pass on to your partner before they are thrust into the Mediterranean madness:
1. Just because we’re shouting, doesn’t mean we’re angry
Maltese people are generally a laid back bunch, but when it comes to saying our piece we’re not accustomed to waiting our turn. Hence – lunches and dinners are loud. Brace yourself.
2. Sinners are not welcome
Don’t even think about telling my Nanna that we live together. We live separately. We only meet each other for coffee after Sunday mass. Which we attend weekly without fail.
3. You will be made fun of – a lot
Think twice before telling any of my family members which parts of Malta we visited today. Your pronunciation will be made fun of. And apparently the joke never gets old.
4. No, you don’t need to remember who’s who
This will all take years to sink in. Don’t rush yourself.
5. There’s no such thing as Maltese reservation
From physical invasion of personal space to unprecedented level of prying into your personal life – with Maltese families, it’s no holds barred.
6. Flattery will get you everywhere
Even if you don’t love pastizzi/bigillia/zalzett malti/ħobż biz-zejt/Kinnie – pretend you do. It’s an automatic “okay, you’re in the club” card.
7. Take all the food that is offered to you
Just trust us on this one – it’s better to leave a family BBQ feeling like you might explode than having to explain to a Maltese mother why you’re not eating her food.
8. You’ll have inbuilt credibility
If there’s one thing Maltese people are used to it’s learning from foreigners who have, heq-hem, conquered us. It won’t be long before my mum is telling our neighbour how smart and sophisticated you are. Yes, even after just meeting you once.
9. You’ll feel right at home…
Becoming part of a Maltese family is a bit like joining the Mafia. There’s always someone looking out for you.