National cuisine in Latvia

Latvian cuisine

Latvian cuisine is relatively high in fat and not spicy.

Pork is the favorite meat. Pork dishes range from the common mostly shared with neighboring countries (e.g. Karbonāde schnitzel) to “weirder” ones such as pig’s feet, head, or ears.

Potatoes are a popular side dish, and they are prepared in many versions (boiled, fried, mashed). Cabbage is also a popular side dish, both hot and cold.

Black rye bread is the staple food.

Latvian cuisine has been influenced by German cuisine due to centuries of German rule. It has also subsumed the Livonian cuisine as Livonians became a small minority. The most ubiquitous Livonian food is Sklandrausis sweet pie made of rye dough with potato and carrot paste.

Sklandrausis on offer during a fair
Sklandrausis pies on offer during a fair. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Riga Black Balsam (45%) is considered to be the national alcoholic beverage, having entire souvenir shops dedicated to it in Riga. This herbal liquor has been brewed since the 18th century. However, beer is more popular for local consumption, with vodka also popularized by Russians. Among non-alcoholic beverages, kvas is popular, however, it faces tough competition from Western soft drinks.

Riga Black Balsams
Assortment of Riga Black Balsams bottles at a window of a specialized shop in dowtown Riga. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.