If you are planning to come to Malta in spring, be sure to try the Loquat fruit which in Maltese is called ‘naspli’.
The Loquat is an evergreen tree on which round, bright orange, slightly flattened fruits ripen, reminiscent of sweet and sour apple, apricot, pear, or mango in taste.
The Loquat has long been cultivated as an ornamental plant in most countries, but it is now generally recognized as an edible fruit plant.
It is rich in vitamins A, C, PP, E, K, and group B. It contains potassium, sodium, iodine, copper, calcium, selenium, and pectin.
A legend recounts how a young man who lived in a village fell in love with a rich but sickly girl. But he could not marry her, since he had neither sheep nor decent clothing, and he walked barefoot. The young man’s mother could not bear to look at his suffering so she decided to help him. She went to the garden and wanted to cut down the Loquat tree to sell its valuable timber. But as soon as she touched the bark of the tree, she heard a groan: “Do not kill me for I will be useful to you.” And so the woman did not cut the tree.
In the spring, as soon as the fruit appeared, she picked the unripe berries of the Loquat and took them to the shoemaker so that he could make a composition for tanning leather out of them, and then sewed boots for her son. She also cooked delicious marshmallows from the ripe fruit. There were so many loquats in their garden that year that they began to sell them in the bazaar. And soon the son was able to buy himself new clothes.
Having dressed up, he went to his beloved girlfriend, but she was sick. The young man asked the servants to give the girl juice and loquat marshmallow. The girl tasted the delicious items and she liked the taste of the loquat so much that she asked for the delicacy to be brought to her daily.
The young man began to come to his beloved every day and bring her the loquat. Soon the girl felt a surge of strength within her and she no longer wanted to stay in bed all day. She began to go out into the street to meet with the young man.
In his new clothes and high boots, the young man was so handsome that the girl also fell in love with him. She told her parents that she agreed to marry him. And soon they were married in a beautiful wedding, at which wine made from the loquat fruit flowed like a river.