is a special event being held in the very quiet and quaint village of
Kirkop. The event, will be organised by the Kirkop Local Council on
Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd May 2010.
This event will illustrate and revalorise the past traditional craft of irkotta production as in contrast with its present modern production.
An events programme will center round an open air dairy cow unit and a small sheep / goats pen will be set up in the core of the village. Gastronomists , teachers , Production Lecturers and students from the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) will be showing the process of artisan irkotta making as well as preparing typical food with irkotta as the main ingredient. The food prepared will then be sold to the public.
Commercial accredited caterers will be selling irkotta food products in the centre of the village. The local societies will be contributing their share towards the enhancement of an extravagant atmosphere by decorating the village in a festa atmosphere for the occasion.
Saturday 22nd May 2010
- Animal exhibition
- The making of the Irkotta. Comparison between the modern and the traditional way of Irkotta production
7pm-8pm - Play by Għaqda Kulturali Kirkop
8.45pm - UEFA Champions League Final on Big Screens
11pm - Closure
Cooking and selling of foods made of Irkotta, drinks and entertainment for all the family throughout the evening.
Sunday 23rd May 2010
9am-4pm - Tours every hour, from Kirkop to a state of the art farm in Għaxaq. (A tour in English language will be held at 9am.)
1am-4pm - Żernieq Square converted as a traditional farm with milking of the dairy cows every hour.
7pm - Presentation of mementoes to the participants.
Food made of Irkotta, drinks and entertainment for all the family all day.
Background to the production of Irkotta at Kirkop:
The traditional craft of
the Irkotta production which is related to the village has inspired the
population of Kirkop to come out with the organisation of the
Irkottafest in order to revive the traditional artisan abilities typical
of the village.
During the centuries, sheep and goats used to be reared in Kirkop and their milk used to be cooked in a traditional way to produce the soft cheese known as Irkotta. This agricultural activity in Kirkop was for many years the primary source of income for the villagers.
Irkotta production was in many instances a family based activity, a breadwinner for a great portion of the 700 inhabitants resident in Kirkop at the turn of the 19th century. The farmer used to wake up as early as two o' clock in the morning to go to the farm, clean the pen, feed the sheep and milk the sheep and goats. The milk was collected into churns. At about four o' clock, the farmer used to transport the churns on a mule driven cart home. The farmer’s wife would by then have already prepared and boiled sea water which would have been brought some days before from nearby Birzebbuga or from Wied iz-Zurrieq.
The wife used to pour the milk with the help of her husband from the churns into a big bowl, which would be full of boiling sea water. The volume of the boiling sea water in relation to the volume of the milk determined the quality of irkotta. The wife used to stir the cooked milk for about forty minutes, depending on the degree of the fire and when the milk started to thicken and to coagulate, then the fire was extinguished. Both husband and wife used to pick up the big cauldron from the two handles and then pour the coagulated cheese from the boiling bowl through a fine sieve into another bowl. The thickened milk which could not pass through the sieve was collected by a large ladle into small irkotta recipients. Only the whey could filter through the sieve.
Once the fresh home-made product was placed in small irkotta containers, which varied in sizes from ratal - 800 grams, to kwart ta' ratal- 200 grams, then the farmer, many a times with the help of his children used to set off on his mule drawn cart from home to sell his family's fresh irkotta in the neighbouring towns. After selling his products, the farmer used to go to the nearest sea shore to collect some fresh sea water for further production.