Street Vendors ("bejjegħa tat-toroq"), earned their living by going from one village to an other in good or bad weather days. They had regular days for each village and housewives eagerly waited to buy or order what they required, as it was a great hassle for them to go on foot or on mules to other villages to purchase.
Mellieħa morning silences use to be broken by peddler's own particulate cry out announcing his wide range for sale, earthen-ware cooking pots ("borom ta' Franza"), or enamel ("enemel"), goods for the kitchen, decoration for the house ("farienża"), food products and many other household needs.
They had a motto saying "calling out is half the sales", ("l-għajta hija nofs il-biegħ"). Certain vendors they even sold the products below cost ("biegħ taħt il-prezz"), or on credit ("biegħ bil-krittu"), to help their costumers obtain their goods.
Men Vendors carred their ware in many different ways - on their heads, shoulders, in cotton bays ("ħorġa tan-newl"), or in cane buckets. Pitchman pushed a small cart with collapsible legs to allowing him to remove quickly.
Women vendors used a round turban ("kawwafa"), on their head to balance the heavy keg or hold their goods in bundles and women out side Mellieħa village also used old pushchairs to carry their goods.
Heavy loads where transported on big carts ("karrettuni"), pulled by donkeys or mules ("ħmir jew bgħula"). They tied the donkey or mule with a rope to the door clapper ("ħabbata"), or door- knob ("pum"), so that the animal will not move while dealing with the customer.
Gradually carts and donkeys where put at rest. The calling out of the pioneers vendor got mixed with the noise of the toting of vans and trucks in the busy streets.
Most regular Street Vendors in Mellieħa
A lady from Żabbar use to carry a heavy keg of capers ("kappar"), on here head with a round turban ("kawwara"), under to help here hold the balance.
She stood on the pavement crying out "Kejla capers, kejla capers, Żabbaria capers", ("kejla kappar, kejla kappar, Żebbaria l-kappar"). She used to heap the Maltese measuring wooden cups "kejla" and half cup "nofs kejla", with capers and set it on the buyer's plate.
An other lady from Żebbuġ use to roam around Mellieħa, caring a big keg full of back mulberry ("tut"), on her head and calling out "black mulberry, Żebbuġija mulberry", ("iswed it-tut, Żebbuġija it-tut"). She filled the customer's dip plates with fresh mulberries for few pennies "soldi".
Every one knew the lady vendor Angelika from St. Paul's Bay. She always puts her heavy bundles ("sorriet"), on the pavement and call out the householder who had small children or young ladies ("tfajijiet"), to be married.
With great satisfaction she showed the customers her goods; towels, sheets, baby diapers and other products. She knew that not all the families could pay for the goods, so she use to tell them "pay me when you can", ("ħallesni meta tista").
She was very please to see the smile on the young ladies choosing their dowry ("dota"), and glad not to have to carry her bulky bundles back home.
Some food vendors walked through the hilly streets of Mellieħa, calling out "fritters, fritters", ("sfineg, sifneg"), or "cheese cakes, warm and good", ("pastizzi sħan u tajben"), packed in a heavy cane baskets ("qfief"), held on their hip.
During the Mellieħa village feast days, sweet nougats vendors use to put up wooden decorated tables ("mwejjed tal-qubbajt"), in the square with a large display of various kinds and sizes of sweet nougat ("lanża qubajd"), raped in colourful silver paper ("karta tal-fidda"), together with the popular heart shape pastry decorated with icing ("ġelu").
Each vendor had it's own particular call out, "honey nougats", ("qubbajt tal-għasel"), "very hard nougats" ("qubbajt tal-karamelli"), or "nougats, the men from Żebbuġ is here", ("qubbajt, iż-Żebbuġi hawn").
To encourage the people to buy from their stall, a young boy use to hold a saucer with some samples of the delicacy nougat and give to the people to taste.
Nougat vendors use to sleep near their stalls, to give an early start for the feast day, they tried to sell some nougats to the people after the morning mass and an elderly man use to roam around the streets with a large basket full of nougats calling loudly "sweet and good, Cekku's noughts", ("ħelu u tajjeb, ta' Cekku il qubbajt"), hoping to make some money.
On the evening of the feast day ("lejiet il-festa"), after the fire work ("ċekċevovu"), was over it was a tradition that men singers ("għanejja"), from Gozo use to pass the hole night playing ethnic Maltese tradition musical instruments and singing Maltese folk songs ("l-għana"), at the back of the church.
Another vendor use to care toiletry product on a small cart pulled by a donkey and called "soap for the bride", ("sapun għal l-għarajjes"), young girls use to go out and buy perfume soap to keep between the cloths to get perfumed.
Particular vendors from Tunes, use to carry a big long knapsack made with weave cotton ("ħorġa"), on their shoulders with rose water ("ilma żahar"), Turk's sweet ("ħelwa tat-Tork"), and Turkish delight ("lakumja"). Some of them sold colouful designed carpets which they carried on their shoulder or head.
Vegetables vendors ("tal-ħaxix"), had an early start to pack their carts ("karettuni"), with baskets ("meżżeż"), full of fresh seasonal crops ("bejgħa"), potatoes, peas, onions, pumpkins, oranges, melons, figs, and many other seasonal products.
It was the parade of each vendor to have the crops will displayed. They got very angry if any customer ("xerrejja"), touched the fruit or other crops with out asking.
Many vegetables came from their own fields and when the harvest was good they gave a piece of pumpkin or a small melon to their frequent buyers. Vendors were also generous with the poor or large families, they use to give them extra vegetables to make a good vegetable soup ("minestra").
Fishermen from Gozo also come to Mellieħa to sell their night fish catch in a flat cane basket ("kannestru"), full of fresh silver vogue "vopi", covered with the smelling sea- weed "alka - Posidonia Oceanica",
They carried the heavy cane basket on their head with a small turban ("kawwara"), under to hold the cane basket steady and carried a small two dish scale ("kfief"), putting the fish on one scale and Maltese weights on the other, one fourth of a rotolo "kwart", half a rotolo "nofs sartal", or rotolo (800gr), "ratal".
As soon the fishmonger arrive in the village he started calling out "the Gozo man is here, live vogue, fresh vogue", ("l-Ġħawdxi hawn, ħajja il-vopi, vopi friska"). He always throw same small fish to the gathered announcing cats before the housewives rushed out with a plate to have the first choice of the big silvery fish. The vendor always put a fish or two more than the exact weight ("kalat").
Even bakers ("tal-ħobż"), use to go around Mellieħa with big carts ("karrettuni"), with a mule pulling the huge lidded wooden box full of different kind of loaves. -
Bread made from a mixture of corn ("qamħ tal-maħlut"), Brown bread, ("ħobż tal-oħxon"),
Marked on top with a knife ("tas-sikkina"), Marked with a cross on top of the loaf ("tas-salib"),
Flat round bread ("ftira"), Of the drawer ("tal-kexxun"), or beer bread ("ħobż tal-birra"). Big loaf ("ħobża kbira"), Small loaf ("ħobża zgħira"),
Next to the scale the bread seller used to keep a big loaf, from which he cut small portions to get the right weight for the customers - rotolo "ratal", half a rotolo "nofs sartal", or one fourth of a rotolo "kwart".
Bakers had the habit to give a small piece of bread ("loqma ħobż"), to the children who accompanied the adults while buying. The smell of the fresh bread was so good that children did not always resisted not to bite or nibble the loaf, making a big hole in the center until they arrived home.
The Paraffin Seller
Paraffin was carried in a big tank on cart ("karrettun"), puled by a donkey or a mule. When housewives heard the calling of "paraffin, paraffin", ("trolju, trolju"), they made sure to take out the empty cans near their doors not to be missed.
The paraffin man fasten the rope steady to a door clapper ("ħabbata"), so that the mule will not move while pouring the kerosene with a funnel ("lumput"), in to the empty gallon ("gallun"), cans.
Brood Hen boxes
In spring time one could hear a particular vendor calling, "box for brood hen", ("kaxxa għal-qroqqa"). People use to buy boxes and put some hey ("tiben"), with a clutch of eggs ("tagħqida bajd"), on which a hen sits for 21 days to hatch the eggs.
Housewives took great care of the brooding hen, the box was kept in a warm places, in the kitchen or under their bed until all the eggs were hatched.
The prickly urchins
The prickly urchins were carried on the hawkers back in a large elongated cane basket ("qoffa"), calling "urchins, urchins" ("riżżi, riżżi"), and waited for the buyer ("xerrej"), to come out with a big dish.
The urchin seller ("bijjieħ tar- riżżi"), use to cut the urchin in half with a big knife on a block of wood, to show the buyer that the urchin was full, they use to call the empty urchin monk ("patri"). Boys also use to sell limpet ("imħar"), for few cents.
The ice-cream man ("tal-ġelat"), roamed around the village with a cart of ice-cream or a colorful granitic containers ("bżieżen"), calling loudly "ice-cream, the ice-cream man is here", ("ġelati, tal-ġelait hawn").
Children ran out after the ice-cream man to get a scoop or two of his delicious flavours, strawberries, chocolate or vanilla ice-cream. Some children preferred a coloured grated ice ("granita"), in a large paper cup.