About the food of Lithuania

Lithuanian town. Photo by E.Giedraitis

Every country is special. And I don’t mean that in a trite way. Time and time again, this Adventure has shown me how every country has it’s bragging rights. Well, it turns out lil’ ol’ Lithuania is literally the center of Europe.

Not too shabby.

Some French researchers figured it out (read more about how they determined this).

The geographical center of Europe, Lithuania. Photo by Wojsyl.

So, this week, while we dive into the food of Lithuania, let’s imagine ourselves perched atop a picnic blanket on that grey compass which marks this nexus of all things Europe. Since the winters can get very chilly (think sub zero), we’re better off having our picnic in the summer, when it temperatures generally bob around in the 60’s.

The food is definitely Baltic, stuffed to the brim with those cold weather comforts like pickled herring, hearty rye everything (bread/ale/kvass/you-name-it), warming soups, and dumplings. But what stood out to me are Lithuania’s wild mushrooms, grown in the shade of her cool forests. The intense flavor of freshly foraged mushrooms makes even the simplest egg dish divine  [Recipe] , and takes soup from ordinary to epic.

Glūkas forest. Photo by Tomas Čekanavičius

Meals often include some form of pork, whether a roast [Recipe] , bacon, or some sort of smoked goodie. Beet and horseradish slaw makes for an unusual and spicy condiment for this and other entrees [Recipe] . And, of course, everything goes well with potatoes in this part of the world.

To wrap our picnic up? I’d say gingerbread is about the best way to finish off a Lithuanian meal [recipe].

Of course, it would be difficult to get through the long winters there without something to warm the spirit. After all, I read it can snow 8 months of the year. Lithuanians solve this by making boozy honey spirits flavored with an armful of spices, sweet enough to please a honeybee and strong enough to take down a burly bear (Krupnikas) [Recipe] . (Non-drinkers can simply enjoy a strawberry kissel [recipe], which we made a variation of when we cooked Belarus – back when I was still learning how to take a photo… eek!)

Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook. Dancers by Gareth Saunders. Vilnius, Lithuania by Jan Mehlich.

So that’s about it! What’s your favorite food from this region?


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