Mārtiņš Rītiņš, one of the best known Latvian chefs, offers reflections on Nordic food and a profile of Latvian tastes on his Vincents Restaurant menu. Below are some of his views on Latvian food.
It's a well-known fact that national cuisine depends on geographic location, and Latvia is no exception. The Mediterranean sun and the Baltic chilly wind leave their marks on the way people live and eat. We all know Italian, French and Greek cuisine, yet the less popular Latvian cuisine features a wide range of local food which could impress the most confident gastronomes. Scots would love our rye and barley, South Americans would enjoy our buckwheat, French people from Normandy would desire our apples, Belgians - Latvian eel.
Latvia has two geographic regions, each of them feature a different cuisine. Seashore regions Kurzeme and Vidzeme are rich in seafood while Latgale and Zemgale prepares excellent pork and bread, which has received high marks from famous people - just ask Hillary and Bill Clinton! The dark rye-bread-made dessert is called ambrosia or food of Gods. Birch tree juice - elixir of life. And where else can you get hemp-seed butter to put on the delicious bread? Peanut butter is nothing compared to this. Besides, traditional dishes vary according to the four seasons. Of special excitement - hunting season, mushrooms and strawberries.
When visiting Latvia, you should definitely taste yellow onion and bacon-stuffed pastries, white and fine rye-bread, caraway-seed cheese made at Summer Solstice, local honey cake, and Riga Black Balsam with some coffee or ice cream. Yummy! What can be better than this?