Country Holidays

Latvian Foods and Beverages

Latvian Foods and Beverages

Latvia has a wealth of culinary traditions, because the country is at the crossroads of Europe, and so influences from other nations have come from the East and the West over the course of centuries. Latvian cuisine is distinctly seasonal, because we have four seasons, and each of them offers specific products and tasty treats.

During the springtime, Latvians eagerly await the availability of birch juice. They grow green onions on windowsills. Onion skins are used to dye Easter eggs. Sorrel is sought out in gardens or meadows. Tarts with rhubarb are baked.

The summer begins with wild and garden strawberries. Summer Solstice would not be Summer Solstice without caraway seed cheese and beer. Summer also involves new potatoes, cherries, tomatoes from the garden, ice cream, fresh honey, herbal teas and aromatic apples. Cranberry fool is whipped. Mushrooms are roasted and marinated. Mushroom hunting and fishing are nearly cult rituals or examples of meditation for Latvians. Meat is grilled over hot coals, and fish soup is cooked. Soured cream and dill can be added to nearly every dish. Pretzel-shaped pastry is baked for birthdays, and tarts are baked for weddings. People can pickles and jams, and they dry and freeze various goodies from the garden and the forest, because a long, hard winter is coming.

During the autumn, Martin Day’s rooster or goose is roasted in the oven, with apple cake or poppy seed pastry for desert. Work sessions are held during the autumn, and potato pancakes are served. Fish, pork, sausages and even cheese can be smoked. Fresh butter is smeared on a slice of rye bread. Cranberries are used to produce lemonade. People buy and sell summer produce at annual markets.

The Christmas table will groan under bacon pierogi, gingerbread, roast meats and sauerkraut. The Christmas table on New Year’s Eve, people roast fish and put fish scales in their pocketbooks so as to ensure money in the new year. All of the peas on the table are eaten so as to ensure no tears in the coming year. People believe that at least nine dishes must be served on New Year’s Eve to ensure that the next year will be a good one.

Latvians are hospitable, and they will bring gifts when they come visiting and always give you one for the road when you’re leaving.

Available in languages: Latvian, English, German