Country 46 – Latvia
Sharing borders with Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania, it is the non-official capital of the Baltic. The landscape is in many places untouched with hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore and large proportions of its land area covered in forest. Not a well known tourist destination like its fellow European countries, but still having so much to offer, Laipni lūgti Latvijā or Welcome to Latvia!
Riga is the capital and lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river. During 2014 the city was the European Capital of Culture and over the past 10 years has held many international events. The Old Town of Riga is an UNESCO World Heritage Site with famous places including; Riga Castle (Rīgas Pils), House of the Blackheads and St. Peter’s Church. The city is well known for its Art Nouveau style and wooden architecture, the other extremely prominent style is English Gothic which can be seen in the Large Guild building.
Their cuisine is influenced heavily by its neighbouring countries and other Eastern European countries. The basis of most meals include; fish (they have a long history with fishing and have specialties including raw and smoked fish), meats, and starchy products including; potatoes, rye, wheat and oats, cabbage is a very popular vegetable. Latvian cuisine uses little spice or herbs but quite a lot of fats and butter the spices they do use include; black pepper, dill and caraway seeds. Latvians also eat a lot of dairy products in particular cheese and sour cream, they have quite an extensive range of cheeses produced in the country. Specialties in Latvia include; kvass (a fermented drink made with rye bread), Riga Black Balsam (a herbal liqueur) and various soups (zupa).
WHAT I MADE
I decided to make zupa in particular Frikadelle Soup (Latvian meatball soup). Its a very simple recipe with only a handful of ingredients. It is usually served a dollop of sour cream and sliced rye bread. I sourced my recipe from → Latvian Eats, check out their page for more recipes.
Serves 4 – 6
- 2 litres water
- 3 bay leafs
- 1 stock cube or 2 teaspoons of stock powder
- black peppercorns
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely sliced
- 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 500g beef mince
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon pepper and salt
- 1 large gherkin (optional)
- sour cream for serving
- Place the carrots, bay leaf, peppercorn, stock cube and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add diced potatoes, bring back to a boil and simmer for additional 3 – 5 minutes.
- While carrots and potatoes are simmering, place mince, egg, breadcrumbs and salt & pepper in a medium bowl and mix together. With wet hands form small balls (size of a teaspoon).
- Add the balls to the saucepan and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until vegetables and meatballs have cooked through. Add sliced gherkin if adding.
- Ladle the soup in bowls and add a tablespoon of sour cream. Serve with sliced rye bread, we forgot to buy the rye bread so we just had some a white crusty loaf with butter.
The soup was very simple and didn’t have many big flavours so to someone like me who is used to a lot of strong flavours its did seem a bit bland but reading about Latvian cuisine most of their meals are quite simple and because they don’t use many spices or flavourings their meals to foreigners especially from Asian, Mediterranean and other countries do seem a bit tasteless or bland. But their cuisine does have a homely, rustic vibe which I quite like. So the soup was nice but just a little plain. Score = 6/10 Comment down below what country your most excited for us to make! And also we now have a Facebook page Bunny and Mimsey’s Food Blog and it would be really nice if you could go over and like it!