The Latvian cuisine may not be famous but as in every country it consists of a unique variety of ingredients. So let’s check out what kind of traditional food they serve.
Common ingredients in Latvian meals are potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork. Pork, pork and more pork. Pork ribs or even a whole pork shank, you name it. The Latvians seem to love it. Latvian food is usually rather fatty, and uses few spices. A specialty is a dark bread called “Rupjmaize”. It is quite popular and made from rye. Of course also potatoes are very common. They are called “the second bread” for Latvians.
Soups are often prepared with vegetables and broth or milk. A traditional Latvian dessert is a “bread soup”, which is a sweet soup made from rye bread and fruits. Due to the changing seasons and the harsh winters the Latvians always had to conserve food. Therefore, they mastered in making fruit jams, pickled vegetables, salted meat and smoked fish. Some of these are popular export products. Due to Latvia’s location on the Baltic Sea, Fish is consumed a lot. The long coastline is full with fishermen villages which always provided Latvians with seafood such as eels, flounders, lampreys and cods. smoked and raw fish are quite common. herring is also eaten a lot. In Latvia it’s popular in both varieties, cooked and pickled. Smoked sprats in oil are a traditional delicacy in Riga.
As mentioned it the beginning spices are not used often. That’s why some call Latvian food bland. The Indigenous condiments are limited to salt, caraway seeds, onions, garlic and white mustard. The only natural sweetener was honey.
Locals like dairy products such as cottage cheese and curdled milk which are mostly made of cow milk. Latvia is much richer in milk products than other Western countries. It offers plenty of varieties with different flavours such as cottage cheese, sour cream or soured milk. A traditional Latvian cheese is Jāņu siers” – caraway cheese. It is traditionally served during the celebration of midsummer. Another Latvian specialty is a pressed cottage cheese with a sweet taste.
Lets finish with the desserts. “Kliņģeris” is a sweet pretzel-shaped bread that is usually served on special occasions. Another one is “Sklandrausis”. It’s a sweet pie, made of rye dough and filled with potato and carrot paste and seasoned with caraway.
Matthias Thoeny, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz in St. Petersburg