Latvian food has a lot of foreign elements. The young country borrows a lot from its neighboring countries. There is a wide variety of contemporary and traditional food and drink options especially Riga, its capital. Latvian food has always been a bit fatty, heave, high in calories and low in spices. However there are still options for those who trying to avoid fatty foods. There are also some vegan restaurants.
Latvian food is hardly complete without pork. Karbonade ar kaulu(grill pork chops), cukas stilbs (pork knuckles) and karbonade (pork schnitzel) are all favorites. Try grudenis (pig’s head stew), cukas kajas ( pig’s feet) and cukas ausis (pig’s ears) for more exotic pig dishes. Potatoes are served with almost all Latvian foods. They can be boiled, fried or boiled then friend and mashed.
A typical Latvian menu has:
Vegetable tarts. These are some delicious tarts with either carrots or potato filling.
Bacon rolls. They are half-moon-shaped rolls stuffed with onions, eggs and bacon. They are served with a cup of chicken broth. This is the foundation of Latvian food. It is best when served straight from the oven.
Meatball soup. It’s an absolutely delicious soup made from meatballs.
Cold beet soup. This soup is typical for all Eastern Europe meals. It is totally mouth watering.
Groats Porridge. This is grain porridge with potatoes and streaky bacon. The combination can be nothing short of delicious. It is at times served as a starter but people also have it for lunch.
Herring with cottage cheese and potatoes. This is a combination of the three most typical Latvian foods. It makes the ultimate Latvian dish.
Potato Pancakes. You can’t resist these. They are crispy and salty with berry jam and sour cream.
Layered rye bread. It comprises of airy layered substance that is made of rye breadcrumbs, cranberry jam and whipped cream. It is an exclusively Latvian delicacy. Actually its second name is Latvian Ambrosia.
Cranberry Pudding. It’s some sweet farina porridge with cranberries as light as air and it instantly melts in the mouth.
For the best ingredients, visit a market in Riga
There are plenty of Latvian beer and liquor to wash down your meal. There are also some fresh natural juices made using wild berries.
Black Balsam. This is an alcoholic and also herbal drink which has been in existence for over 300 years. The specific procedure of preparing it is a very closely guarded secret. Things used to make it include: bitter orange, ginger, peel, oak bark and cognac. It can be drunk on its own, with vodka or with coffee. It is the most popular among locals and tourists as well.
Kvass is a drink prepared using grains which are in their early fermentation stage.
Brengulu and Bralis are the best brands of Latvian beer. For a cheaper and still great alternative consider Uzavas beer.
The legal alcohol drinking age in Riga is 18 years. You should also know that drinking or being in possession of an open can or bottle of alcohol in parks, streets and public places in general is not allowed in Riga.
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For a video perspective on Latvian food, enjoy the short video below!