Get a taste of Lithuania – local cuisine you can't resist
Many of us would associate Lithuanian cuisine with… our granny's dishes. Dishes brought after the war from Poland's eastern borderlands are often put on Polish tables, but it is worth to try in their original setting. You have probably met many of these dishes in the Polish Podlasie region – it is quite understandable, as the two cuisines stem from the same root.
Šaltibarščiai - a cold soup
The local restaurants in Lithuania serve plenty of hot and full-bodied soups, of course, but cold soups rule the Lithuanian menu in this category, with the most famous one being the classic Lithuanian šaltibarščiai, which is made from beetroot leaves and stock, left to cool down and then coloured with kefir or sour milk. The taste is enriched with cucumber, a mashed garlic clove, dill and spring onion, and then the dish is served with hard boiled eggs cut in quarters. It is not to everybody's liking, but you should try it at least once. Maybe it will be to your taste?
Snacks - bread, kindziukas and… pig's ears
You can treat the cold soup as an appetiser. You can have it with traditional Lithuanian rye bread, which is prepared on the natural sourdough. It is heavy, dark, a bit moist and stays fresh for a long time. It can be prepared with an addition of caraway, which does not dominate its flavour, but adds to the rich taste of the bread. You can treat garlic bread as a snack an addition to a glass of beer. This role will be played excellently by the delicious kindziukas, i.e. traditionally matured pork meat – it is undoubtedly the king of Lithuanian specialities! As for another speciality, it is… pig's ears! Yes, you have heard it right. Lithuanians have mastered smoking, roasting and cooking them to perfection. Will you dare to have some?
Potato, the king of Lithuanian recipes
If you like dishes based on potatoes, Lithuania will be your culinary paradise! Start from kartacze and zepelins, which are kind of potato dumplings. Stuffed with meat or fish, they are topped with sour cream or pork rinds, depending on the region. Finally, they can be sprinkled with fried onion, chives or parsley leaves. A potato cake with bacon, onion and eggs is an interesting option. Among Lithuanian specialities are bliny, a dish thoroughly soaked with Russian influences. They are normally made from flour and yeast, but there is a version prepared from pre-cooked potatoes. You can have them with gravy, mushroom sauce or cream sauce with an addition of sturgeon or caviar.
Lithuanian cuisine is also a reflection of the multicultural character of that small country. For example, in Lithuania you can try dishes cooked by Crimean Tartars. Sounds interesting? It tastes interesting as well. You must try chebureki, deep-fired dumplings,or pierogi, stuffed with meat (usually mutton or beef) or curd. A different variant of pierogi was created by Karaims – their kibinai, made from crispy dough and meat stuffing, are first cooked and then baked. Speaking of pierogi, you just can't forget about kolduny – small Lithuanian pierogi stuffed with meat and cooked in water or stock. They are served on their own, in broth or, less frequently, in borsch.
Alcoholic beverages for every occasion
Tasting alcoholic drinks in Lithuania can be a culinary experience on its own. Find an atmospheric local bar and order a board with shot glasses containing a selection of the most characteristic spirits. They will include vodkas (cranberry vodkas are smashing), liqueur and meads. Suktinis, made from honey and herbs, is very popular. It is also the name of a local dance. An unusual flavour is offered by Malūnininkų, a liqueur based on kvass. Enjoy and cheers!
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