Being from Scotland originally but having the pleasure of being brought up in Malta over 20 years ago, I am one of the few lucky people who feel equally at home in these two completely different countries.
But are Scotland and Malta really so different? During my time in both places, there were some obvious contrasts; the weather, the topography, the weather, the men in skirts, the weather, and the more weather.
However, there are some pretty important similarities that 100%, completely, unquestionably justify calling Malta “The Scotland of the Mediterranean”.
1. Everyone wants to be inside us
Over the years, everyone has wanted a piece of us. First, Scotland had the Romans, then it was the Irish, then Christian missionaries crept in, then it was the Angles, followed by the Vikings, the Normans eventually took hold, and finally we had numerous English invasions to deal with, the result of which can still be seen today in the pockets of upper-middle class retirees infiltrating the Highlands.
Malta, well, we all know you’ve had your fair share of interest. It all started with stone-age farmers from Italy, then it was the Phoenicians, followed by the Romans, then St Paul had a little boat trouble and brought some Christianity to the party, then the Arabs took over, followed by the Normans, the French, the Spanish, the Knights of St John, then the Turks had a go, the French came back with Napoleon, then it was the British… and now it’s the iGamers.
2. We like carbs and we don’t care what you think
In Scotland, we literally just deep fry everything. From Mars Bars to individual slices of pizza, nothing is safe. Our national menu was created by going onto Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP blog and just doing the opposite of whatever she says.
In Malta, you also know how to do it properly. You have pastizzi, chicken pies, steak pies, the bread (OMG the bread), pizza slices as thick as bricks, sausage rolls which have cheese actually injected into the sausage. I mean, it’s horrific. Horrifically amazing. You could do with deep frying more of your stuff, but whatever; I’m splitting hairs here.
3. We have our very own soft drinks
I have no fucking idea what is in either of them, and I have no intention of ever knowing, but they’re ours and I’m proud of them. Scotland with its “Irn Bru”, a nuclear orange rocket fuel, and Malta with its “Kinnie”, a kind of pond-water brown, liquidated potpourri. Just don’t let small children or pets near them.
4. Everyone thinks we’re angry when we’re just having a normal conversation
I’ve heard the exact same thing when an American friend has been around my Glaswegian side of the family, and when a new English boyfriend goes round to his Maltese girlfriend’s house for Sunday lunch.
“Why do you guys spend so much time together if you find it so hard to get along?”
We’re not fighting! We just have a lot of harsh consonants in our dialect. We’re also not shouting, we’re animating the story. What, you want me to explain how the mechanic tried to rip me off yesterday without swearing, throwing my arms around and re-enacting the whole thing word for word until it ended in my inevitable victory? I don’t care if we’re in Palazzo Parisio and people are staring.
5. We’re really friendly
No matter where you go in Scotland or Malta, we will feed you, shelter you, show you photos of our children, give you a lift to wherever you want, laugh with you (and at you), share our sacred family recipes, ask you loads of questions, and invite you to really inappropriate occasions, like our great grand niece’s Christening who you’ve never met. Just go with it, it’s worth it for the free food alone.
6. Our national flowers are long lost siblings
So there you go, I think you’ll find the evidence indisputable, Malta and Scotland are the same place, and I can’t think of two better places to call home. For those who don’t agree, I will be in the corner not listening to you, because I’ve got a deep-fried pastizzi in one hand, an Irn Kinnie in the other, and I’m fighting off all the people who want to be inside me with a silver claymore.