Laipni lūdzam Latvija! Welcome to Latvia! This country, located in Northern Europe (check out this map), is a Baltic nation – meaning it was controlled by the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1941, and 1944 and 1991.
The country has a complicated past – its history has made Latvia what it is today, which is, according to Lonely Planet: “A Country in transition, hellbent on shedding its stalwart old-Soviet image, the Latvia of today is vibrant, enigmatic and altogether mesmerising.” Sounds like a place I’d like to go – how about you?
The cuisine of Latvia is unique; sure, there’s a Russian taste here, a German flavour there, and little tidbits of surrounding countries making their way into a dish or two. The summer season is short and warm, while winter is long and frigid – this makes for a short growing season and limited amounts of fresh ingredients. The locals make do, however, and end up with a cuisine that is both hearty and extraordinary. Due to the fact that it’s not a very tourist-laden country, the food ends up being a surprising change from the every day.
Common ingredients used in Latvian cooking include: potatoes, cabbage (often in the form of sauerkraut), grains, garlic, assorted meats (primarily pork), onions, eggs, and peas. Some dishes made with these ingredients include: Pîrâgi (bacon buns), rupjmaize (a dark rye bread), speķa pīrādziņi (bacon cake), rasols (potato salad), skabu kapostu zupa (cabbage soup), and frikadelu zupa (meatball soup).
All of those dishes sounds incredible. My mother is from Poland, however, so I think that I’m biased toward anything involving sauerkraut, bacon, and onions. What do you think about Latvia’s cuisine? Have you ever been to this unexplored country, or would you ever like to go?