About the food of Latvia

Beehive transport in Latvia. Photo by Tiago Fioreze.

Maybe it’s this time of year – when the days are wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and living so far away from my Bostonian roots feels so excruciatingly wrong – but five minutes into cracking the book on Latvia and I felt like I was in New England.

Wishful thinking?


Seascape by Liepāja town, Latvia. Photo by Chmee2.

But, with Latvian’s weighing in with favorite foods like apples, cranberries, meat, potatoes, and gingerbread – it’s hard not to draw the comparison. Apples make their way into sauces, pancakes [Recipe], ciders, breads, pastries and more. Cranberries are whipped up into layered bread puddings, traditional cranberry sauces [Recipe], and jellies. Meats are stewed and potatoes are served alongside, often boiled. And gingerbread? It makes its way into cookies [recipe], houses [epic], and more.

The deeper I dug however, the more I realized the resemblance to my hometown ended there. Latvia is loaded up with other dishes I haven’t seen anywhere near Boston. Just for starters, there’s aspic (gelatinous savory jellies filled with chunks of meat and vegetables), sauerkraut, fishy potatoes (tossed with herring and smoked salmon, for example), and all manner of rye bread.

Riga at night. Photo by Pudelek (Marcin Szala).

Also, they typically celebrate name days instead of birthdays. And they do it with a bread. A sweet bread, but bread all the same  [Recipe].  With candles in it. Fabulously different from my childhood, although my mom did once make my brother Damien a birthday pie upon his request. It was apple.

Anyway, all this food – familiar and unfamiliar – has me excited to be visiting the Latvian Global Table, all the way up in northern Europe, along the ambling Baltic sea.

What are your favorite foods from the region?

Turaida Castle in Sigulda, Latvia Photo by Maurice. Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook.


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