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10 unforgettable flavours of Latvia
In fact, Latvian dishes are not limited to the union, grey peas and bacon or freshly baked rye bread; they expand also in other flavours that have been loved by generations. From the best companions of long hikes and holiday cakes - “Selga” biscuits - to birch sap, which tastes through and through like Latvian spring.
Welcome to 10 well-known local delicacies loved by any Latvian.
Cold beet soup
In accordance with the prerequisites for a good cold soup, it is based on kefir, buttermilk or soured milk, but the other ingredients may or may not be present.
The most common ingredients of a cold soup are beets, spring onions, dill, mustard, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled potatoes, sausage and hard-boiled eggs.
Taking into account how many different combinations of these ingredients can be created, it could even be said that almost every Latvian family has its own way of making the cold soup.
It is well-known fact that in France, the world-famous champagne is made from grapes grown in the Champagne region, but Latvians can be justifiably proud of their ability to make sparkling refreshments from fresh birch sap.
Filled in glass bottles and closed with a cork, they will provide a champagne-worthy pop for the New Year’s celebrations.
Lightly salted cucumbers
At a time when the harvest of young cucumbers from the market or garden is brought home in large numbers, most of them are eaten by soaking them in cream mixed with garlic or are marinated and stored in the cellar, however, there is a quick way how Latvians can turn a simple cucumber into a true delicacy in only couple of hours. When cucumbers are kept in salt water with various herbs, they very soon turn into a brilliantly crunchy snack.
Midsummer’s Day cheese
In the book about Emil of Lönneberga, in preparation for the birthday party, the news about seventeen different types of cheeses that will be brought to the table was recited, but Latvians know that there is no proper Midsummer’s Day without the one and only - real cumin cheese.
Cumin cheese can be bought in shops all year round, but it is no secret that the housewives who have made the cheese themselves are especially respected.
“Selga” cookies with condensed milk
The best and most exquisite dessert is the one that tastes like childhood. Cookies “Selga” have been produced in Latvia since 1956, so they are a staple for several generations.
Chequered cookies soaked in condensed milk are an equally good delicacy in winter and in summer and surprise even the most demanding gourmets with their simplicity.
Bacon patties (speķa pīrādziņi) are most often found on a rich Christmas table, but the average Latvian will not forget about them on Midsummer, Easter, public holidays and just on a weekend.
The best bacon patties are soft and airy and the baker should not skimp on the bacon.
Latvian cuisine is unthinkable without rhubarb. After the cold winter months, they are one of the first greens to be found in our gardens.
Rhubarb stalks can be eaten simply by dipping them in a sugar bowl, but it is well known that the greatest excitement will be caused by a warm rhubarb traybake just from the oven.
Nowhere in the world will you find such cottage cheese as in Latvia. Yes, yes, cottage cheese with cream and dill, cottage cheese traybake, cottage cheese scones, but how about cottage cheese ice cream? This is the only one for us and so delicious that it literally melts in your mouth.
It is often assumed that Latvians like to keep to themselves and are a little shy, and perhaps that is why one of our favorite sweets is “Serenade” - it is clear to every Latvian that no serenade sung under the window will move a beloved’s heart the way this dark chocolate candy with nuts and dried fruits can (and, yes, by the way - it is vegan).
Round as a moon, soft as a pillow, sweet as candy - these are the airy vanilla zephyrs. Each snack is two zephyr halves stuck together, so one delicacy removed from the packet can be easily shared with a friend.