What to eat in Latvia?
Any Latvian will tell you that they have a very unique bond with the natural world. Latvians gather, pick, smoke, cure, pickle, and ferment anything they can get their hands on. Since Latvia has four distinct seasons, seasonality determines what is consumed. Mountains of baby vegetables appear in the spring, the summer is dominated by the consumption of recently picked berries and the autumn apple harvest ushers in the preparation of the winter's food supply. Pantry shelves and open jars of pickled vegetables, chutneys, and jams once a thick layer of snow has covered the ground and the temperature has dropped to -20°C (-4°F) and below. Every bite of Latvian food feels like a warm hug because it is all about comforting, soul-satisfying, and loving home cooking.
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Grey peas with speck
One of the few recipes that hasn't been adapted or borrowed from another culture, this dish has been a staple of Christmas for centuries. When Latvians were historically peasants subject to foreign rule, a typical diet consisted primarily of vegetarian foods, with small amounts of meat being consumed only on special occasions. Grey peas are soaked, then boiled, much like chickpeas, before being added to a stew with fried onions and cubed speck (a smoked, fatty bacon made from pork belly). During the chilly, gloomy winters, it is a beloved comfort food and a very hearty meal.
Dark rye bread
You must eat rye bread in Riga because it is a traditional Latvian food. Although it can also be soft and chewy, it is flavorful and rich. Frequently, a meal will come with a basket of bread and some smooth herb butter for you to spread. In bars and restaurants, you can order it as a fried garlic snack, and you can even order it as the main component of a particular Latvian dessert, but we'll get to that later.
I dare you to eat just one of these tiny snacks in the shape of fortune cookies! When they are still warm and fresh from the bakery, soft pastries filled with a mixture of bacon and onion taste best. Although there are piragi with other fillings, such as minced meat, cheese, or cabbage, bacon is the most popular.
Although the ingredients in these blood sausages—barley, oatmeal, speck bacon, and pig's blood—might not sound appetizing, the rich sausages are delicious and perfect for tucking into on a chilly day. To counteract the richness, they are typically served with a tangy berry sauce.
Layered dark rye bread dessert
As we mentioned earlier, Latvians have really tried everything when it comes to dark rye bread, and desserts are no exception! A typical Latvian dessert made with rye breadcrumbs, blackcurrant or lingonberry jam, and whipped cream is called layered dark rye bread dessert. It is frequently served with fresh berries and cottage cheese ice cream and has grated dark chocolate and/or cinnamon on top. Although dark bread in a dessert might not sound appetizing, many Latvians have learned to love it!
Riga black balsam
Ask any Latvian what beverage should you take home to put on your shelf for special days - you will always hear about Riga Black Balsam. This liqueur, which was initially created as a medicine, will heal all of your ailments! Even in the coldest weather, it will keep you warm but is not for the weak of heart. Choose fruit flavors like blackcurrant or cherry if you'd like something a little lighter because they're not quite as eye-watering sweet.
What drinks go well with Latvian cuisine? Obviously beer! Because so many grains are grown locally, almost every mid-sized town has its own brewery. Latvia produces a wide variety of regional beers, ranging from a pale lager to a dunkel in the German style. The popularity of "live" beer served on draft that is unfiltered and unpasteurized has greatly increased over the past ten years. You should try it.
We hope the article about the food from Latvia made you consider visiting this beautiful country and trying out its cuisine! Follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when new articles are published!