Travel to Latvia: Latvian cuisine
There are some national cuisines, like French or Italian, that are renowned all other world. There are also other cuisines, that no one actually knows about and still they feature a range of local food which could impress the most confident gastronomes. Latvian cuisine belongs to the second category. European gourmands rarely heard about such thing as “Latvian cuisine”, nevertheless they would definitely be surprised to find out how many interesting products it offers. Today we decided to correct this injustice and to prepare a list of local Latvian delicacies that would do honor to any dish.
Latvian products that are surely worth tasting:
1. Birch tree juice
One of the spring traditions in Latvia is tapping of birch tree juice. A small hole is made in the tree, through which the juice flows – water filtered by the wood giving it a slightly sweet, but fresh and refreshing taste. In April you can get fresh juice and it is recommended to everyone. It has a very gentle sweet taste and lots of minerals.
2. Hemp seed butter
Hemp-seed butter usually is made of sweet-cream butter and hemp seeds that are crushed and added to the butter. The colour of hemp seeds makes the butter creamy green and adds a special bitter-fresh and slightly hazy flavour.
Hemp-seed butter tastes great on rye-bread or in salad. Chefs use this butter to highlight flavour of a dish since hemp-seed butter adds a pleasant accent to products.
3. Rye bread
The unique and delicious Latvian-made rye-bread gorgeously smells like a cornfield and a wood stove. Each slice is tasty and rich; you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in the world! This kind of bread is now listed among the icons of Latvian culture; it is easy to take with you like a small piece of Latvia, it keeps for a long time.
4. Riga Black Balsam
Slightly bitter scent reminding of summer even in mid-winter, golden brown colour and unmistakeable taste – Riga Black Balsam is Latvia’s most characteristic alcoholic drink. The traditional recipe was created by Abraham Kunze, a pharmacist living in 18th century Riga. Peppermint, hedge hyssop, wormwood, birch buds, ginger, sweet flags, balm… The recipe is kept secret. All we know about it is that the herbs are mixed with vodka and water, and this mixture is kept in oak barrels for more than a month.
5. Bread soup
If a dessert very characteristic to traditional Latvian cuisine should be named, it would be bread soup. It is an excellent dish characteristic only to Latvian cuisine with a history of several centuries.
Unbelievable, but the main ingredient of this dessert is rye-bread that gives it a special taste. To prepare it, slices of rye-bread are fried in oven, then poured over with boiling water and boiled for another half an hour on low heat.
Of course, bread soup does not consist only of rye-bread. Dried apples, cinnamon, raisins, and plums are added, giving the dish a sweet-sour taste, but the bitter taste of cranberries balances the sweetness of fruit. A little sugar is added for taste.