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Latvian cuisine has been influenced by other countries of the Baltic rim. Common ingredients in Latvian recipes are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork. The Latvian cuisine is markedly seasonal – due to pronounced four seasons in the climate of Latvia, each time of the year has its own distinctive products, tastes and flavors. Latvian food is generally quite fatty, and uses few spices.
Contemporary Latvians usually eat three meals a day. Breakfast is normally light and usually consists of sandwiches or an omelette, with a drink, often milk. Lunch is eaten from noon to 3 p.m. and tends to be the main meal of the day; as such it can include a variety of foods, and sometimes also soup as an entrée and a dessert. Supper is the last meal of the day, with some choosing to eat another large meal. Consumption of ready-made or frozen meals is now common.
Common foods and dishes
Latvian cuisine is typical of the Baltic region and, in general, of northern countries. The food is high in butter and fat while staying low in spices except for black pepper, dill or grains/seeds, such as caraway seeds. Latvian cuisine originated from the peasant culture and is strongly based on crops that grow in Latvia's maritime, temperate climate. Rye or wheat, oats, peas, beets, cabbage, pork products and potatoes are the staples. Meat features in most main meal dishes. But fish also is commonly consumed due to Latvia's location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea: smoked and raw fish are quite common. Latvian cuisine offers plenty of varieties of bread and milk products, which are an important part of the cuisine. A lot of popular dishes in contemporary Latvia come directly from other countries, at times as a result of their historical domination. For example dishes adopted from Soviet cuisine include dressed herring (Latvian: Siļķe kažokā), various dumplings, shashlik (šašliks) and many others.
Latvia is much richer in milk products than other Western countries. Biezpiens (cottage cheese), skābais krējums (sour cream), rūgušpiens (soured milk) and a lot of varieties of cheeses with different flavors are available. A cheese similar to smoked gouda, but softer. There are various tastes available for purchase in most grocery stores. A Latvian specialty is the biezpiena sieriņš, which is pressed cottage cheese with a sweet taste (the most popular manufacturers of the snack are Kārums and Baltais). A traditional Latvian cheese is Jāņi cheese (caraway cheese); this is traditionally served during the celebration of Jāņi or midsummer.
Soups are commonly made with vegetables and broth or milk. Beet soup, sorrel soup and nettle soup are also consumed by Latvians. A traditional Latvian dessert is maizes zupa (literally "bread soup"), which is the sweet soup made from rye bread, whipped cream and fruits.
Speķrauši are buns filled with bacon and onion. Kliņģeris is a sweet pretzel-shaped bread that is usually served as a dessert on special occasions, such as name day. Sklandrausis is traditional dish in Latvian cuisine which has a Livonian origin; it's a sweet pie, made of rye dough and filled with potato and carrot paste and seasoned with caraway.
Fresh birch sap is very popular drink in spring. It is also popular to ferment birch sap by adding raisins, blackcurrant twigs or lemon peels. Some producers are selling fermented sparkling birch sap all year round (the most popular manufacturers are "BIRZI" and "Sula")
Latvia has ancient traditions involving edible mushrooms. Picking wild mushrooms is very popular in autumn. Modern as well as traditional mushroom preparation is very popular. There are around 4100 mushroom species in Latvia, 1100 of those are cup mushrooms. About ¼ of these are edible. The most popular edible ones are various Boletus and Cantharellus.
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- Celotajs, LLTA Lauku. "Mushrooming". Celotajs.lv. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
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