Satisfy Your Taste Buds with Latvian Food!
Great part of travelling is tasting local food. And yes, traditional food tells also a lot about people and even history! Latvian cuisine has been heavily influenced by German, Swedish, and Russian cuisine. Latvian food tends to be hearty and uses few spices: red meat – a lot of meet, pork, creamy sauces, fish (as we have such a long coast of the Baltic Sea), dark rye bread and vegetables, and musrooms! Latvians are crazy about mushrooms and picking mushrooms in the woods is kind of traditional sport from July till October. Latvians also eat lots of potatoes and call them "the second bread". Which is the first bread? Dark rye bread. I don’t think you have to try it all, but there is a list for you to choose! (The list will be fulfilled)
Dark Rye Bread – rupjmaize. Latvian meals are always served with bread of some type – usually dark bread – it’s the national staple. People eat it with potatoes, soups, jams, butter, cheese, salad... Acutually with almost everything. Latvians treat food, especially bread, with great respect ― because we know it's not something that can be taken for granted and if the slice of bread falls on a floor, Latvian will kiss it when picking up.
Grey Peas with Bacon – zirņi ar speķi. A typical, truly Latvian, dish - boiled grey peas with small snippets of bacon: grey peas, smoked or unsmoked bacon, onion and salt. Especially popular for Christmas table.
Bacon Buns - pīrāgi, speķa pīrāgi. Pastry filled with bacon and onions. These buns can be used as appetizers, as part of a light lunch (with, say, a cup of bouillon), or as part of a party table. They are best straight from the oven. Christmas, Midsummer’s night – you can not celebrate these days without bacon buns.
Jānis' Cheese – Jāņu siers. Jānis is the most popular boys name in Latvia. Jāņi - the celebration of the summer solstice, magical midsummers night.This special cheese is a must for celebration of summer solstice. Great on bread, great without bread. At midsummers night great with beer - these two are the most important things on the table at the summer solstice. It looks round and yellow – like the sun. Without the sun we have no food, that’s the reason a lot of Latvian traditions are connected with the sun – and we still keep these traditions. Real solstice cheese. is prepared in a household, it varies in its consistency from soft to hard, with caraway seeds or without them. If you wish to store the cheese for a longer period - rub with salt, wrap in paper and store in a cool, dry place.
Herring in a Jacket - siļķe kažokā. It’s not only Latvian, but very popular here. It has salted herring, boiled carrots & beetroots, cucumbers, potatoes, boiled eggs, sour cream or mayonaise. Salt, sugar, onions, green peas can be also added.
Sklandrauši. I have no idea how to translate it, maybe vegetable tarts or type of bun - traditionally baked in Kurzeme, Latvia's western region. Sklandrauši can be baked with only the potato or only the carrot filling.
Beer (alus) - whether dark or light, bitter or sweet. And there are a lot of good local beers: Cēsu, Aldaris, Valmiermuiža, Užavas and more...
Birch juice (Bērzu sula) - either fresh or fermented, has always been a natural and healthy drink for Latvians in early spring and in the heat of the summer. Nowadays birch juices are prepared with lemon and orange rind, raisins, cinnamon etc. Exactly – we get it from birch trees in early spring.
Kvass - made from grains in the early stages of fermentation.
Riga Black Balsam - a thick, black alcoholic liquid which has been produced since 1700. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but some of the ingredients include ginger, oak bark, bitter orange peel and cognac. It is drunk with coffee, tee, blackcurrant juice or pure. Strong drink and the best medicine to stay healty on winter. It doesn’t mean you have to drink it all the time, just add it to your morning coffe.• One of the most popular souveniers from Latvia.
Herbal Teas - picking herbs and drying them for tea is also very popular in Latvia and as ecological products right now is a trend it get’s more and more popular. You just have to know the right herbs, dry them correctly and use – yes, it’s a great help for health – just find out which problems can be solved with which herbs. The most popular ones – linden, camomile, peppermint, wild strawberries, marigolds, meadowsweets, cornflowers...