Estonian cuisine


Estonian cuisine
Part of a series on the
Culture of Estonia
Coat of arms of Estonia.svg
Architecture
Ceramics · Visual Arts
Cinema · Films
Folklore - Kalevipoeg
Literature · Poetry
Music · Radio
Television · Theatre
Sculpture

Estonia Portal
v · d · e

Traditional Estonian cuisine has substantially been based on meat and potatoes, and on fish in coastal and lakeside areas, but is influenced by many other cuisines by now. In the present day it includes a variety of international foods and dishes, with a number of contributions from the traditions of nearby countries. German, Scandinavian, Russian and other influences have played their part. The most typical foods in Estonia have been rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products.[1] Estonian eating habits have historically been closely linked to the seasons. In terms of staples, Estonia belongs firmly to the beer, vodka, rye bread and pork "belt" of Europe.

Contents

Cold table

Flounder

The first course in traditional Estonian cuisine is based on cold dishes - a selection of meats and sausages served with potato salad or Rosolje, an Estonian signature dish based on beetroot, meat and herring.[2] Small pastries called pirukad ("pirukas" in the singular) - a relative of the pirozhki - filled with meat, cabbage, carrots, rice and other fillings or mixtures are also popular, and are often served with bouillon. Herring is common among other fish as a part of the Estonian Cold Table. Smoked or marinated eel, crayfish dishes and imported crabs and shrimps are considered delicacies. One of Estonia's national dishes is räim (Baltic dwarf herring), along with sprats. Flounder, perch and pike-perch are also popular.

Soups

Soups are traditionally eaten before the main course and most often are made of meat or chicken stock mixed with a variety of vegetables. Soups are also blended with sour cream, milk and yogurt.[2]

Main course

Pork and potatoes accompanied by a rich gravy and often served with sauerkraut or other vegetables has been the traditional Estonian main course. Pork has been the most important meat and is eaten roasted, cured as bacon, in the form of ham, or in pies and sausages.[2] There are many other main dishes too.

Black bread

Black rye bread accompanies almost every savory food in Estonia. Instead of wishing "bon appetit", Estonians are prone to say jätku leiba ("may your bread last"). Estonians continue to value their varieties of black rye-based bread. Estonia has not been a land of plenty. If a piece of bread was dropped on the floor, it was good form to pick it up, kiss it to show respect, and eat it.[3] When Estonians live abroad, they often say that they miss black bread the most.

Desserts

Specific desserts include kissel, curd snack and kama. Rhubarb pies are a favorite.

Drinks

A traditionally popular drink called kali - similar to Russian kvass - is becoming more popular again. Mead or mõdu, the drink that was most popular in ancient times, has almost completely disappeared. Nowadays, locally brewed beer is the number one choice to accompany food, different juices or simply water being the main non-alcoholic choice. Wine is widely drunk, and although it is still not as popular as beer, it is becoming all the more common. There are also Estonian fruit wines made of apples or different berries. Milk is also widely drunk by children as well as adults. Estonians are also proud of their vodka and other spirits, such as the herbal liquer Vana Tallinn. Two of Estonia's oldest breweries are A. Le Coq, founded in 1807, and Saku Brewery, founded in 1820.

Other dairy products besides milk (Estonian: piim) include keefir and also hapupiim and pett, which are variations on the theme of buttermilk.

Seasons

Summer and Spring

Traditionally in summer and spring, Estonians like to eat everything fresh - berries, herbs, vegetables and everything else that comes straight from the garden. Hunting and fishing were common in the history. Nowadays, they have remained as popular pastimes. It is popular to barbecue in the summer.

Winter and Christmas

During winter jams, preserves and pickles are brought to the table. During the past, when the economy was largely agricultural, the gathering and conserving of fruits, mushrooms and vegetables for winter was essential. Today, gathering and conserving is less common because most everything can be bought from stores, but preparing food for winter is still very popular in the countryside and continues to retain its charm for many, as opposed to the commercialization of eating habits. Upholding of traditions is important to many.

Black pudding (Estonian: verivorst), head cheese (Estonian: sült) and sauerkraut (Estonian: hapukapsas) with over-roasted potatoes have been part of the traditional Estonian menu that nowadays are mostly Christmas specialties. Also, typical Christmas treats have been apples, Mandarin oranges and gingerbread.

Modern Estonian cuisine

The previous segments have dealt largely with the most basic underpinnings of traditional Estonian food, as handed down by an agrarian society and adapted to modern times in the most traditional of senses. It would be wrong to conclude that there isn't much more to the national cuisine. Many influences have nudged modern Estonian eating into more diverse and open directions. Early influences that diversified the eating experience came through the Hanseatic League. Small Estonia has been conquered and ruled by many foreign powers, ranging from the Danes, Germans, Poles, and Swedes to the Russians. German nobles who colonized the Estonian countryside with hundreds of manors were modernizers over the centuries, and also acted as a transmission belt of Continental influences on Estonian cooking, although for a great many years, precious few of these influences trickled down to the impoverished Estonian peasants.

Things began to change with the gradual emancipation of the Estonian people in the 19th century and as a result of urbanization. By the time that Estonia enjoyed national independence between the two World Wars, Tallinn, Tartu and Parnu as well as other Estonian urban centers sported a diverse variety of restaurants and cafes that featured dishes from many European cuisines as well as the local menu. There was also a flowering of good cooking in Estonian homes throughout the country. A variety of newer Estonian dishes were developed, and cooks and housewives experimented with foods from other cultures.

All of this came to a crashing halt in 1940, when the Baltic States were annexed by the USSR, restaurants were nationalized and closed down, and the few that were left suffered from a chronic shortage of ingredients. Although those who still had access to garden plots were able to supplement the limited variety of foods that were offered in Soviet-era food stores and markets, the period from 1940 to the early nineties brought with it a tragic decline, compared to the golden days of the twenties and thirties. On the other hand, migrants from various parts near and far of the USSR brought new recipes and styles. Even now, the foods of the Georgians, Azerbaijanis and others make the culinary experience in Estonia less one-sided.

Since the reestablishment of independence in 1991, Estonian cuisine has rebounded, slowly at first. Some good dishes enjoyed before WW II have not returned, while many others have. A number of restaurants in Tallinn and other Estonian cities have introduced culinary experiences previously not known, such as Indian and Mexican food. At the same time, a number of modern-day restaurateurs such as Imre Kose, Imre Sooäär, Dimitri Demjanov, and Kadri Kroon have not only introduced international dishes, but have also tweaked classical Estonian dishes in directions they had never gone before. They have created totally new and sometimes amazing combinations that may draw on local ingredients, but use the entire palette of innovations that a contemporary cook can allow him- or herself. Some of the fusion and other ideas conjured up by Kose, for example, is groundbreaking. Although home cooks tend to be more conservative, they too try new things at a more tempered pace. Therefore modern Estonian cooking is in flux. Traditional dishes are still common and even cherished, but Estonian cuisine is not static either. All in all, Estonian rural fare is good and hearty, while the better kitchens of establishments in the larger Estonian cities and towns can justifiably be proud of themselves.

Notes and references

Karin Karner's book "Estonian Tastes And Traditions"

International Wine and Food Society Estonian Branch

Ranked Tallinn restaurant reviews - Trip Advisor



Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cuisine of Estonia — The traditional cuisine of Estonia uses meat and potatoes varieties, which today is influenced by many countries. Today it includes many typical international foods. The most typical foods in Estonia are black bread, pork, potatoes and dairy… …   Wikipedia

  • Estonian Navy — Eesti Merevägi Naval Ensign of Estonia …   Wikipedia

  • Estonian kroon — Eesti kroon (Estonian) …   Wikipedia

  • Estonian Defence League — Kaitseliit Active 1918 – 1940 1991 – present …   Wikipedia

  • Cuisine classique — is a style of French cookery based on the works of Auguste Escoffier. These were simplifications and refinements of the early work of Antoine Carême, Jules Gouffé and Urbain François Dubois. It was practised in the grand restaurants and hotels of …   Wikipedia

  • Estonian nationality law — Estonian citizenship based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis is governed by the 19th January 1995 law promulgated by the Riigikogu which took effect on the 1st April 1995. The Citizenship and Migration Board (Estonia) is responsible for …   Wikipedia

  • Cuisine — See also: Global cuisines, Outline of cuisines, and Regional cuisine Contents 1 History 2 Global and regional cuisines …   Wikipedia

  • Cuisine of the Midwestern United States — Chicago style deep dish pizza …   Wikipedia

  • Cuisine of the Thirteen Colonies — North American colonies 1763–76 The cuisine of the Thirteen Colonies includes the foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of the British colonies in North America before the establishment of the United States in the 1770s and 1780s. It was… …   Wikipedia

  • Cuisine of the Western United States — The Western United States has its own cuisine, distinct in various ways from that of the rest of the country.[1] Those states west of Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska would be considered part of this area, as would, in some cases, western… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.