Cold and damp weather in Latvia results in fare that is rich and filling, with character. Simple but sturdy foods from garden vegetables and grains. Potatoes and barley, rye products – through the centuries are a reminder of home fires burning. But what about the rowan berries? Beautiful and mildly tart - for a real taste of life.
It goes without saying: nowhere on planet Earth is there Rye bread more delicious than in Latvia, for its unique flavour is an outcome of our history, our memories, dreams and understanding of how things are. Rye bread has been included in the Latvian cultural canon as one of our greatest and most notable cultural values– as a symbol, as a memory card of flavours, as the nation’s self-assurance and unity. It is hardly surprising that Rye bread is what every Latvian child living abroad craves most.
Today – the bread fermented and baked according to our forefathers’ customs is a rediscovered treasure deserving to be accompanied by the best that our soil, gardens and forests can provide. Deserving too, of the accolades bestowed by the world’s finest culinary artists and most avant-garde thinkers. Rye bread cake is the humblest place to start its further evolution.
Dried and powdered, red-orange Rowan berries become a subtle spice for a variety of sauces and marinades. In chutneys and marmalades, they provide an ideal accent for meat dishes or mild cheeses. And seeped in spirit, they unleash the best that berries can offer alcohol. Of course, teamed with other berries, the Rowan is a perfect partner for apple compotes and for honey and linden-flowers in hot tea, or most simply – for honey.
Rowan berries have more Vitamin C than lemons, more beta-carotene than carrots, more iron than apples, and eight irreplaceable amino acids. And taking a Rowan sauna in season is a great experience – beating and massaging the skin with a bunch of leafy twigs, having Rowanberry facials and baths.
The Turnip is considered to be Latvia’s oldest root-crop with Baltic records dating extensive plantings back to the 5th century. The oldest and the most eaten until that modern, relatively speaking, sensation – the potato, appeared on the scene. Usually, our ancestors baked Turnips and swedes in the oven, boiled them with pearl barley and even pickled them complete with their leaves, subsequently braising them with beans; enriched them with pork fat or served them with meat. They say that when the Romans conquered territories, they demanded Turnips from the local people as part of their tribute. If the Romans had reached Latvia back then, they would not have had to complain about a lack of Turnips.
Making our small contribution to the current renaissance in long forgotten herbs and veggies – we humbly offer you the Turnip – in stews or sautés, or simply baked in the oven, but best of all – in a salad with smoked fish and nuts. What better than the Turnip – we were made for each other!