Nestled in the north of Europe and straddled on either side by the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, Estonia enjoys an enviable waterside position, one that has made it an attractive business and tourist destination. The country has a deep-rooted history and this is evident in the rich culture that has been nurtured for centuries. It is this culture that has given rise to a fascinating culinary scene, one where traditional foods from centuries past, thrive. Anyone curious about what Estonians eat will be interested to tour the country and learn about the people’s traditions. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of nine traditional foods in Estonia that you ought to try. Scroll down to find out more about them.
Kohuke is a snack that’s enjoyed by Estonians and is made from curd. Believed to have originated from Russia, Kohuke is today a popular treat in the Soviet Union, sold in most stores around the region. Estonia isn’t left behind in this Kohuke trend, one that started about seven decades ago. In fact, when Kohuke was launched, it immediately flew off the shelves, causing a shortage. However, today, it is readily available and you can experience it while in Estonia. This delectable treat is made by taking sweet curd and coating it with chocolate. There are different versions of Kohuke, some have coconut added while others have berries in them. What remains the same is their enchanting sweetness and mouthwatering flavor.
2. Rye bread
Try some rye bread the next time you’re in Estonia. This type of bread is what Estonians identify with, one that is considered the staple in the country. Estonians are experts in growing rye, known to have been cultivating the grain for over a millennium. The skill has been passed down from generation to generation, entrenching the love for rye bread in the culture and traditions. You can’t miss this type of bread when in Estonia, with shelves upon shelves of different varieties of rye bread in supermarkets across the country. You can nip into a bakery and get yourself some handmade rye bread that’s considered a better option to the store-bought loaves. This bread is sumptuous as a side with some herring or soup.
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At first glance, you might opt to give this dish a wide berth. With the grey-looking fish laying on top of a slice of bread, it doesn’t do much in terms of urging you to eat it. However, if you decide to look past the aesthetics of it, and take a bit into the snack, you’ll be transported to culinary heaven. This is a type of Estonian sandwich that’s simply a buttered slice of bread (most probably rye bread), a layer of smoked fish, topped up with a slice of boiled egg. Somehow the combination of flavors makes for a very delectable meal, one that you ought to try when in Estonia.
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Verivorst is basically a type of Estonian sausage that’s a beloved treat at Christmas time. A type of blood sausage, Verivorst also has barley as an ingredient among other spices. The sausage is usually fried on a pan or thrown in the oven to cook. When ready, Verivorst is eaten as a starter and it best had with cranberry sauce or a red berry jam.
This quintessential Estonian delicacy is a dish that originated from the south-eastern Estonian district of Mulgi-Mulgimaa. With a culture that stands out from the rest of the country, it is unsurprising that the region came up with its own traditional meal. Mulgipuder is a mixture of mashed potatoes and groats from barley, prepared by boiling the ingredients with some salt. Once ready, the potato-groat mixture is pounded to a pulp and served with some bacon and, perhaps, some rye bread (obviously). Today, Mulgipuder is a common feature in restaurants, a meal that has traveled from Estonia’s southeast to become a popular national dish all over the country.
This is a type of bun that’s often brought out during a popular Estonian holiday known as Shrove Tuesday or Vastlakuklid. So, the treat is aptly named Shrove Tuesday Buns, owing to the day when Estonians from all walks of life binge on this delectable dessert. But you don’t have to visit during Shrove Tuesday to sample these buns. Vastlakukkel is simply a normal bun made of the usual bun ingredients but the kicker comes from the filling of whipped cream that’s piped into it before it’s powdered with icing sugar. If this sounds mouthwatering that’s because it actually is.
Aspic is a popular gelatin-based meal that is common in North America with variations of it in Asia and Soviet nations. Estonia has its own version of this savory food which is served mainly during special occasions like weddings. It is basically a meaty jelly, a combination of meat and various other ingredients which are allowed to slowly cook and become a jelly. The meat is taken from the leg of the animal, often veal but sometimes pork, rabbit or lamb.
8. Fried Baltic herring
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Baltic herring is common in Estonia, earning the title of the country’s national fish. In fact, this fish is a part of most dishes in the country, even being used in the Kiluvoileib we mentioned above. However, to fully appreciate Baltic herring, have it fried the Estonian way. In this recipe, it is first marinated to give it some verve. Afterwards, it is fried on both sides before serving with a side of boiled potatoes. You can’t miss this alluring dish in Estonian restaurants, all the more reason to try it when in the country.
9. Pickled pumpkin
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
If you love pumpkin meals then you’ll enjoy the Estonian pickled pumpkin. This is, simply, peeled pumpkin that has been chopped up and added to a boiling mixture of water with vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and other spices. This pumpkin is allowed to boil in the concoction for close to half an hour and then is packed in jars. You can have them whenever you please and they go down well with black pudding, known locally as verikakk.
A culinary adventure in Estonia
Visit Estonia and go on a culinary adventure, sampling the different traditional foods sold in the country and figuring out which one is your favorite. Our list above has nine of the most popular, ones that Estonians hold dear, ones that will leave you yearning for more. Tantalize your taste buds in this culture-rich country when you next visit.
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