On the Maltese island of Gozo, the salt pans appeared as sheets of ice on a thirty-four degree Celsius summer day, in August last year. Josephine Xuereb, a fifth-generation salt farmer, began harvesting what she referred to as “summer snow.” Xuereb said that her family’s salt was composed of three ingredients, “sea, sun and wind.”
In the Bible, salt was used metaphorically to signify durability, loyalty, permanence, fidelity and purification. In many respects, these metaphors are better understood when one views a birthplace of salt—what salt looks like straight out of the womb and then raised by the familial stewards, who harness the elements of nature and care for it between its journey from the sea to your table.
Xuereb and her family of origin, the Cini family, have maintained a set of the historic salt pans in Xwejni Bay—some reportedly as old as three hundred and fifty years—in the northern part of Gozo, for over a hundred years. The family’s method of harvest and production has not changed much since its earliest days of operation. The pans here are treasured family heirlooms. Some segments have been broken by the sea and rebuilt using concrete and rock.