Latvian national cuisine
Typically Latvian dishes include cereals with the addition of lard or meat and homemade cheese.
Latvia is located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, fish dishes are common here. Herring is loved in Latvia. Herring is made into sandwiches, salads, for example, mixed with beets and seasoned with mayonnaise, fried with vegetables. In Latvian restaurants you will definitely find some dish with salmon – baked salmon with vegetables, salmon soup, steamed salmon, etc.
In Latvia, they like smoked fish. You can try smoked eel, flounder, lamprey, cod. Of course, all this can be bought at the Riga Central Market, where fishermen deliver their catch, but to try the freshly smoked fish, which is called first-hand, is a special experience.
Latvians are great meat eaters. The most common meat is pork. The ancient Latvians, being a poor enough people, even cooked pig ears, tails and patches. Now it is a special “delicacy” that can be enjoyed in some Riga restaurants specializing in national and medieval cuisine.
In the Latvian kitchen actively use legumes. The traditional Latvian dish is gray peas with speck. It is customary to serve it at the Christmas table, so on Christmas Eve gray peas are included in the menu of many Riga restaurants and are being prepared at Christmas fairs. However, at any time of year, gray peas with speck can be ordered in restaurants of national cuisine.
Speaking about the Latvian national cuisine, it is impossible not to say about bread. Nowhere is there such rye bread as in Latvia. Real Latvian rye bread is dark on the outside and inside, with a dense texture and a slightly sour taste. Cumin is often added to it. In Latvian stores and bakeries, you can find more unexpected types of bread – for example, rye sweet with dried fruits and nuts or light carrot bread.
It’s not cooked in Latvia with rye bread – soups, desserts, served with beer, etc. You should definitely try the sweet bread soup with whipped cream. It is served as a dessert. Raisins or lingonberry jam are added to the soup.
Latvian traditional cuisine
While enjoying Latvian traditional cuisine, you will always experience a feeling of satiety and freshness, the dishes are rich in nutrients and natural. Spices were rarely used before, but over time the Latvian cuisine has changed, borrowing and adding to the variety of dishes influenced by the cultures of many other nations.
The list of Latvian traditional dishes complement exotic spices and ingredients, creating in combination new taste sensations. The variety of dishes for vegetarians and supporters of raw food is also expanding.
The most favorite dishes of traditional Latvian cuisine are meat dishes – blood sausage (cereal sausage), roast pork, various smoked foods.
Meat of game is also popular – they eat beaver, deer, wild boar, duck, as well as various fish, which are often smoked by traditional methods. Vegetarian dishes include pumpkin or potato pancakes, beet salad, soup with beans, and sweet dishes include bubber or whipped egg and semolina delicacy, bread soup, rye bread puff with whipped cream and berries, and honey cake. In the summer months, people still go to the forests to pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and other berries and mushrooms.
Meals complement such beverages as milk, sour milk, kvass, birch sap, various herbal and other teas. Of course, you can not do without foaming beer.
Traditional dishes are one of the most essential elements of Latvian traditions, which to a large extent determines the habits of celebrating holidays: on Easter, eggs and cottage cheese are in an honorable place, on Ligo holiday beer and cheese sung in Latvian songs, on the day of Martynia they eat roasted rooster, 12 dishes are put on the Christmas table, which must include peas and sauerkraut. Popular beliefs say that serving these dishes on specific holidays will bring health, well-being, money, wealth and will contribute to the harvest.
Where to look for Latvian traditional cuisine?
Traditional cuisine can be tasted during excursions to rural homesteads, where various delicacies are prepared: homemade cheese, aromatic sausages, honey, beer, smoked meat, sklandraushi or rye flour baskets with creamy carrot filling, freshly baked bread and many other dishes. Visitors are given the opportunity to see how the product itself is prepared, and to purchase fresh, aromatic products right there on the spot. Also, the national cuisine of Latvia can be tasted in numerous restaurants in Latvia, and in the capital of Latvia, Riga.
For example, in the spring, after a long winter, to strengthen the body, Latvians have long used birch sap. In a cellar for birch sap created in Ikšлеile and wine, those interested are introduced to the process of obtaining birch sap, there is an opportunity to taste foaming wine from homemade birch sap.
In cities, rural products are available in eco – stores and markets. The offer of restaurants, zucchini and cafes is also often based directly on traditional Latvian dishes.
Latvian cuisine these days
Influenced by the traditions of food of other nations and the spices available in our time, the Latvian cuisine is gradually modernized – traditional soup with cabbage can be served with olives and capers, vegetarians will appreciate a hearty meal with traditional beans, to which chili pepper is added, and during the collection of mushrooms, risotto is prepared with local mushrooms. Almost every restaurant serves dishes, the origins of which lead to Latvian traditional cuisine, which the chefs skillfully adapted to the electoral taste of the modern gourmet.
However, if you want to slowly and thoughtfully get acquainted with the masterpieces of Latvian chefs, you should go to the province. It is there, in small towns and villages, there are quite a few establishments opened in the former ancient manor’s estates and peasant farms.
What to buy as a gift?
Riga Black Balsam is one of the alcoholic beverages that characterizes the taste of Latvia, which has acquired the status of a souvenir. One of the main ingredients of black balsam is various plants that give the drink its dark color and healing properties.
Since antiquity, the pride of the Latvian national cuisine has been a real rustic rye bread, which nowadays adds grain, dried fruits and which is eaten as an additive to both sweet and salty dishes. It is worth finding a place in the suitcase for honey, various green teas, candies “Korovka” (“Gotina”) and Latvian beer.
We wish you to enjoy the tastes of Latvia and find your favorite taste!