Lithuanian food and drinks

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Lithuanian food and drinks

  1. 2. <ul><li>Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to its cool and moist northern climate: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialities. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Eastern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with Eastern European (Polish, Ukrainian) , and shares some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine also, Hungarian, Romanian, and Georgian cuisines as well as Ashkenazi cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country's long and difficult history. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of their common heritage, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share many dishes and beverages. Thus there are similar Lithuanian, Litvak, and Polish versions of dumplings (koldūnai, kreplach or pierogi), doughnuts spurgos or (pączki ), and blynai crepes, (bliny, or blintzes). German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and potato sausages (vėdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as Šakotis. The most exotic of all the influences is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dishes kibinai and čeburekai are popular in Lithuania. &quot;Torte Napoleon&quot; was introduced during Napoleon's passage through Lithuania in the 19th century. </li></ul><ul><li>The Soviet occupation badly damaged Lithuanian cuisine. As elsewhere in the Soviet Union, however, its people were allowed to maintain their own small garden plots; these were, and are, lovingly tended. After the restoration of independence in 1990, traditional cuisine became one of the ways to celebrate Lithuanian identity. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the apparent richness of the cuisine, Lithuania has a very low prevalence of obesity. </li></ul>
  2. 3. Lithuanian Cuisine
  3. 4. Vegetables and spices <ul><li>The most commonly used vegetable in Lithuanian recipes is the potato; in its simplest forms, it is boiled, baked, or sautéed, often garnished with dill, but a tremendous variety of potato recipes exist. Potatoes were introduced into Lithuania in the late 18th century, were found to prosper in its climate, and soon became indispensable. Cucumbers, dill pickles, radishes and greens are quite popular. Beets are grown more widely than in other areas of the world, and are often used for making borscht and side dishes. Cabbage is another popular vegetable, used as a basis for soups, or wrapped around fillings (balandėliai). Tomatoes are now available year-round in stores, but those home-grown in family greenhouses are still considered superior. </li></ul><ul><li>Lithuanian herbs and seasonings include dill, caraway seed , garlic, bay leaf, juniper berries, and fruit essences. Vanilla and pepper were scarce during the Soviet era, but were welcomed back after independence. The cuisine is relatively mild </li></ul>
  4. 5. Vegetables and spices
  5. 6. Fruit <ul><li>Apples, plums, and pears, which grow well in Lithuania, are the most commonly used fruit. Because they cannot tolerate frost, tropical fruit such as citrus, bananas, and pineapples must be imported, and hence were used less often; an orange in a Lithuanian Christmas stocking was an annual treat. During the autumn harvest, fruit are often simmered and spiced to create fruit stews. Gooseberries and currants are widely cultivated; they are sweetened, made into jams and baked goods, and provide a piquant touch to desserts. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Fruit
  7. 8. Meat <ul><li>The most frequently used meat is pork, followed by beef; for immediate consumption it is often grilled, or dusted with breadcrumbs and sautéed, in a dish similar to schnitzel. The need for meat preservation no longer presents the urgency that it did during the Soviet occupation or previous times of trouble, but many favorite techniques survive, include brining, salting and drying, and smoking. There are many varieties of smoked pork products, including ham and a soft sausage with a large-grained filling; these are served as a main course or thinly sliced as sandwich fillings. Sausage-making is an art form; men will retreat with their friends and relatives to smokehouses for entire weekends, partying and arguing about the best possible procedures. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Fish <ul><li>Fish caught in the area, such as pike or perch, are often baked whole or stuffed, or made into gefilte fish. Herring is marinated, baked, fried, or served in aspic. </li></ul><ul><li>Smoked fish such as eel or bream are popular entrees and appetizers in areas near the Baltic Sea, especially in Neringa. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Drinks <ul><li>Traditional Lithuanian beverages are gira (non-alcoholic drink made from rye bread), kisielius (fruity cranberry drink), beer, various spirit drinks with fruit or herbal infusions and, of course, mead. In olden times Lithuanians made a large variety of gira drinks. Gira was made not only from bread, as is the most common now, but also from various berries, fruits, blossoms, buds, saps, juices, decoctions, grains, malts, cakes and even honey cake. Gira connoisseurs will tell you that ‘bread gira’ is not a very good generalisation, because different kinds of gira were made from rye, wheat, barley or oat bread. Another non-alcoholic Lithuanian drink is kisielius, usually made from cranberries (but sometimes also raspberries or gooseberries), starch and sugar. </li></ul>

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