With spring in full swing, family and friend weekend trips become a regular and popular activity for many. Whether it means visiting different interesting locales, cultural events or other leisure activities – recreation and rest are only improved if there is a tasty meal involved. Rimi gourmet Signe Meirane offers insight into traditional cuisine in Latvia’s regions and what is worth trying out when travelling around Latvia.
Vidzeme is one of the most forested regions in Latvia. With that, Vidzeme’s traditional cuisine includes many treats from the forest, and not only in summer, but throughout the year, because berries and mushrooms can be preserved. Thanks to Gauja and lakes, Vidzeme is also rich with fish. Soil is fertile in Vidzeme, making it possible to grow anything, Meirane says.
When in Vidzeme, she says, it is worth tasting proper rye bread, as it always turns out great in Vidzeme. ‘Bacon patties have always been great in Vidzeme, as have other bread types. It does seem like Ventspils residents have always been bread-eaters, as you cannot talk about Vidzeme without mentioning waffles and pancakes prepared in a simple countryside stove,’ Meirane says.
If you want something more modern, Vidzeme has many meat producers offering grilled meat meals. Cutlets prepared in Vidzeme’s countryside are definitely worth mentioning. Dairy products are also popular in Vidzeme, including butter, cheese and ice cream.
Latgale is a whole different world influenced by products and meals from neighbouring countries, Meirane says. ‘What is put on the table is dictated by lakes, forests and fields. It would be disrespectful towards Latgale to not try out fish prepared with forest mushrooms. Spring is the time when Latgalians enjoy batvini (fresh beat soup). Residents of this region also prepare carrot cimus (with good old-fashioned butter) in autumn and porridge soup in winter.’ Sausages and potatoes here are heavenly. Be aware that they are usually prepared using lard. Curd snacks here are also totally different from what we are used to elsewhere in Latvia.
Latvia’s central region and its fertile land is the place to find all kinds of vegetables and meat. There are many great recipes here. Thanks to Engure, Zemgale is rich with all kinds of fish and smoked products. Pancakes and all kinds of breads would be prepared here every day if only they were healthy.
Constant wind, fish and sklandrausis. This is what Kurzeme is best known for, Meirane said. Sklandrausis is something you absolutely have no right to miss if you’re in Kurzeme, especially if you end up close to Alsunga. The traditional wheat sweetbread is another story. Then there is sour porridge and fish, usually smoked or prepared with potatoes. Mencins – something that can be found in Kurzeme. Meirane says that herring prepared in a newspaper over hot coal is an interesting meal. Potato pancakes are also worth mentioning. Everything found in Kurzeme should be tried at least once to remember the taste and where to find it.