Michael McFeat is a Scot gold miner in Kyrgyzstan. A couple of days ago, during the holiday celebrations, he posted a photo on Facebook showing his mates at the mine queuing up to eat a Kyrgyz delicacy called chuchuk that is apparently a sausage made up of parts of horse. In his caption to the photo McFeat described the national dish as resembling a horse’s penis. Which is when all hell broke lose. His fellow miners threatened to strike and began a petition for his arrest. Indeed, his arrest followed promptly and he is now accused under Kyrgyz law of inciting racial hatred and risks five years in prison. All this for comparing a national dish to a horse’s penis.
It’s one of those comic bits of news that tend to lighten up the New Years’ roll-call – comic that is, unless you are Michael McFeat. He’s unlucky this Michael. If luck had its way he would have been in Malta instead and snapped a photo of a queue outside one of our many pastizzeriji. He would then have been quite free to post it on facebook with a caption stating that Maltese tend to form queues in order to get their hands on a dish that resembles a womans’ private parts. It’s no secret either. There are parts of the country where pastizz is slang for vagina – and these tend to be parts of the country that tend to have a more real “feel” of the language.
McFeat would never have ended up in prison. Well. We cannot say that with absolute certainty can we? Not with the amount of crazy that goes into applying the law on the island of developers and salesmen. You can see it kicking off with a petition while the online barrage of attacks of “Go back to your country” and “Don’t touch my pastizzi” kick off.
The President of the Republic might deem it decorous to step in and defend the plate of the poor people launching a Pastizzi Telethon featuring all the VIP’s of the land in defence of the pastizz. Meanwhile the Prime Minister will immediately negotiate 25 pastizzi kiosk concessions along the islands shore (on ODZ land of course) dubbing it the Wignacourt Circle of Pastizzi. In a speech on National Television Muscat will stand on a custom made pastizz-shaped lectern and grind his teeth menacingly at anyone who threatens to instil the fear of the pastizz among the population. Anyone who criticises the pastizz is negative, and anyone who is negative has no point in living.
Is this too fantastical? Is it too far-fetched? Are you sure? As 2016 stepped in with an Alice in Wonderland message by Joseph Muscat framed in lie upon lie upon lie we would do well to ask more questions of whatever is fed into our heads – particularly whatever is fed into our heads about what it means to be Maltese. The danger is that the few values that are left that distinguish us as a nation risk making pastizzi out of all us.
Happy 2016. May it bring a heavy dose of critical-mindedness, may it whisk away any traces of gullibility and may it signify a return to the discovery of a set of values that define us properly as a nation within Europe.
It’s either that or pastizzi.