Latvian foods are one of the Baltic region’s best-kept secrets, filled with healthy dishes, organic vegetables, rye bread (including sweet sourdough rye bread), and excellent fresh seafood.
And it is no surprise when you think of Latvia’s vast rye fields and its coastline overlooking the Baltic Sea that many fresh and delicious ingredients make their way into Latvian foods. If you are open to an outstanding gastronomic period of traveling in Latvia, you will want to bring all the Latvian foods back home.
Sampling Latvian foods are easy as you can get traditional dishes at restaurants all over the country. Find out with the Ling app which specialties from the Latvian menus you should try and which Latvian dessert is worth ordering.
11 Latvian Foods You Must Try
1. Pelēkie zirņi ar speķi
Pelēkie zirņi ar speķi is the national dish of Latvia. This type of stew (meat) is made with fried onions, local grey peas (like gram), and diced specks. The dish was invented when Latvian used preserved and dried food supplies.
It is recommended to serve this dish with kefir (frothed milk drink) or a few slices of thick rye bread on the side, such as īstā rupjmaize.
2. Skābeņu Zupa
The name skābeņu in this soup is derived from skābs, meaning sour, referring to the taste of sorrel.
Skābeņu zupa is a traditional Latvian sorrel soup. It is made with chopped sorrel leaves, beef broth, pearl barley, potatoes, onions, and lemon juice. Popular additions are smoked pork ribs and chopped carrots, while sour cream and hard-boiled eggs are garnishing.
Rupjmaize is a traditional Latvian bread shaped into an elongated loaf, made from whole rye, and baked in a hearth oven. It has a unique sour and sweet flavor. The bread match well with cold cuts, smoked fish, and pungent, firm cheeses like Roquefort.
This crescent-shaped pastry is one of Latvia’s national dishes or Latvian foods that appear in many varieties throughout the country. When prepared with yeast, they are usually bulkier and served as a snack. The smaller varieties, usually made with thin, buttery pastries, are eaten alongside various savory soups.
However, all varieties are filled with a delicious combination of ground beef, onions, fermented cabbage, smoked bacon, or cottage cheese.
5. Aukstā Zupa (Cold Beetroot Soup)
Aukstā zupa is a refreshing cold Latvian soup with an unusual pink color. It is made from boiled beets, kefir, fresh cucumbers, milk sausage, black pepper, and boiled eggs. Vegetables like green onions and dill are essential, and most people also enjoy Latvian soup with a sprinkle of vinegar.
It is commonly served with a few slices of dark rye bread on the side. Aukstā zupa is a seasonal Latvian food (cold soup), so it is practically not worth finding it in restaurants during winter.
Originating in Latvia, karbonāde is the country’s beloved spot on the world-famous Wiener schnitzel dish. This meat specialty is usually made from a thin pork cutlet coated with a mixture of scrambled eggs, flour, and (sometimes) breadcrumbs before being perfectly fried.
A delicious chanterelle mushroom sauce is usually poured over pork schnitzel before serving. Further, you will have this incredibly delicious and simple dish with French fries, dill seasoned potatoes, creamy mushrooms, pickled vegetables, cabbage salad, and slices of Latvian rye bread.
7. Potato Pancakes
Potatoes, in general, are essential for Latvian cuisine because they are one of the vegetables that can be easily grown in local fields. Although most people cannot imagine potato pancakes, Latvians cannot imagine their life without potato pancakes.
Therefore, you must try potato pancakes at one of the local restaurants, but make sure they come with speck sauce and a dollop of sour cream
8. Smoked fish
Latvia has great access to the Baltic Sea, so it is no surprise that fish takes up a large part of Latvian foods. The most traditional fish are probably eel, pike, and cod, but there are many.
Liepajas menciņš is a signature dish of Liepaja, which is made with smoked fish cod, onions, and boiled potatoes. You should definitely give it a try to fully understand the charm of Latvian foods.
Speck is a type of roasted pork made from cubed pork belly. It is a very fatty food and became popular in Latvia a few centuries ago when they had to spend a lot of energy to work hard in the field.
Pelēkie zirņi ar speķi, a traditional dish, is one of the best examples. It is a simple dish, made with fried onions, different types of peas mixed with speck.
Definitely, there is something special about dill in the Baltic states that make it dominant and the most famous plant. You will probably find some dill flavor in every dish of Latvian foods, including potato pancakes, smoked fish, or fried creamy mushrooms.
11. Maizes Zupa (Rye Bread Pudding or Rye Bread Soup)
Maizes zupa is a Latvian dessert of bread soup or sweet soup. Soft rye bread is first passed through a sieve and then mixed with dried fruits, sugar, and spices to prepare it. The whole mixture is finally topped with whipped cream. The dessert has a thick texture and is one of the traditional Latvian foods served cold.
Learn More About The Culture, Traditional Foods, And The Language Of Latvia
Latvia is a country rich in history, food, culture, and natural beauty. So, when you learn the Latvian language, you will gain an appreciation and a deeper understanding of all it offers. Thus, if you are visiting Latvia soon, do not forget to learn how to greet people in Latvian and some vocabulary about transportation.
The Ling app from Simya Solutions is the perfect way to fit studying Latvian into your busy life. It offers the finest of both worlds, flexibility in choosing where, how, and when to study, along with expert support from a native instructor.