In the Wind

26 Apr

The Ta’ Kola Windmill on the island of Gozo dates to the time of the Knights of Malta. The name Ta’ Kola comes from the last miller, Guzeppi Grech who was affectionately called “Zeppu Ta’ Kola,” Joseph, the son of Nikola. When the wind was favorable for the mill’s operation, Zeppu would let the locals know by blowing through a triton shell. Villagers would then bring their grain to be ground into flour for bread.

There were two basic kinds of flour produced by the mill. White flower was for the Knights and gentry. The coarser wheat and barley flour was for the farmers and their families to make harder crusted “peasant” bread. When the windmill was in full operation, families in the village had designated times to baking each week. They would come for their three-hour time slot bringing their wood fuel as well as their dough for baking. Bread was baked and eaten everyday of the week in Malta. It was the backbone of the Malteze diet.

The process of producing the grain was arduous. Wheat and barley was cut and laid outdoors in a stone threshing circle. Mules were driven over the grain to separate the hard chaff from the kernels. Raking in the wind continued the winnowing process until the kernels could be gathered for delivery to the mill. All family members took part in every stage of the harvest. And during harvest season, after a full day in the fields, families would join together for a communal meal followed by singing.

Today the mill is a museum. Malteze still have their daily bread though, for the most part, someone else bakes it. But the Ta’ Kola Windmill’s blades still turn everyday there is an island wind.

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