CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 23…Estonia…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Estonia.

The Eastern European country is bordered by Latvia and Russia and shares maritime borders with Finland and Sweden…Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been part of the Russian Empire since the end of the 18th century,..The former Soviet republic became independent in 1991…Estonian local cuisine typically contains pork, potatoes, and garden vegetables although international foods are available the Estonians are rooted in tradition and traditional foods are favoured like jellied meat and marinated eel this to me brings back memories of my childhood as jellied meats(brawn) and vegetables in aspic jelly plus eels a favourite still in the East End of London…

Although many tourists unused to these traditional foods tend to find the textures strange…but pleasant once they overcome their initial reticence…

The black bread known as “lieb” is a staple and a meal wouldn’t be deemed complete if not served with lieb or “kartulid” (potatoes )…

And of course, no meal is complete without cakes and pastries which are also typical in Estonian gastronomy and one of the most sought-after delicacies would be the “kohupiim,” a cottage cheese-like cake. Estonians are also known for their sweet and mouth-watering dairy products…

Estonia’s National dish is Verivorst...Typically a winter meal or Christmas meal, verivorst which literally means “blood sausage” that comprises barley, onions, allspice, marjoram and blood…pigs blood…very similar to what we Brits call black pudding Verivorst is eaten with Mulgikapsad, a type of sauerkraut, and a red berry jam…Here is a link on how to make Verivorst I know my hubby would love this dish…and I could get all the ingredients here as pig’s blood is sold by the bag…its not something I could make or eat…I have a line…sorry Alan x

The Hairy Bikers have done a tour In Estonia going foraging, fishing for sea kale and dancing with grannies who are said to produce the best school dinners in Europe…I was hoping I could find a video of this tour but I couldn’t…as a former communist country, it seems Estonia is doing very well on the world stage…

But I am looking at the cuisine… a cuisine where Scandinavian, German, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and other influences have played their part. The most typical foods in Estonia have been rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products.

It is also good to note that Estonian eating habits have historically been closely linked to the seasons…I like that…from the fish of the freshwater lakes to the vast fields of rye, so many fresh, quality ingredients make their way onto Estonian dinner tables…

Sprats… this tiny fish was a staple when I was growing up and it appears to be a very popular dish here from a spicy sprat starter to many other dishes sprats feature highly in Estonia’s recipes…On a slice of rye bread, a generous amount of cream cheese, mixed with crushed garlic, is spread then a fillet of pickled sprat is placed. Finally, the sandwich is garnished with slices of boiled egg white, green onion, and dill… Called Vürtsikilu Suupiste it is often accompanied by strong liquors, preferably vodka of Estonian origin.

Hearty Pea Soup with ham hock..something my mother used to make a lovely thick with dried peas soup with smoky ham hock…or how about Potato Salad I think every European country has their own version of potato salad…the potato salad here has smoked sausage and apple and the egg is grated…and is very popular as potato salad is wont to be around Europe and the Nordic countries…

Blood Sausage is a dish that is as old as time…variations of which exist in the UK, Europe and Asia…In South Korea, they are called ‘sundae’, in the Philippines – ‘longganisang dugo, and in Finland – ‘mustamakkara’…Estonian blood dumplings can often be found in shops during Christmas fairs, often accompanied by sauerkraut (‘hapukapsas’ in Estonian).

It is often sold sliced, and it is enjoyed as a late afternoon or early evening snack with a drink.

Verikäkkare is prepared by adding rendered lard and fried onion to a bowl of spices, blood, and milk, which can be substituted with water…Next, flour is added until the mixture forms a dough. The dough can be moulded into shapes, and traditionally they are rolled into sausages.

The sausages are then boiled in water until cooked, and then they’re left to cool. Before serving, they are cut into small discs and fried in a pan until they are browned.

The dumplings are served with pickles, sour cream, and cranberry jam. This dish is a true reminder of the resourcefulness of the Estonians and the importance of Estonian food…true nose-to-tail eating is practised still.

This is apparent in dishes like Sült which reminds me of the meat in aspic jelly my grandmother used to make…Beets are a popular vegetable and paired with herrings as they are in many Nordic countries…Roast Pork with Sauerkraut is another traditional dish as is cauliflower cheese and barley porridge…

Traditional food and preparation feature highly in Estonian cuisine and you could be forgiven for thinking that the cuisine hasn’t moved on, however …The Michelin Guide tells a different story;

Estonia is one of those countries that our inspectors have been scrutinising with curiosity for several years. After many months spent crisscrossing the country, from Tallinn to Tartu, from Mäeküla to Kloogaranna, they discovered a teeming culinary scene, full of quality establishments and diverse cuisine. Highlighting talented chefs and professionals who play on both classic Estonian and international repertoires, this first selection of restaurants is a wonderful invitation to discover a fascinating gastronomic destination,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides.

That discovery surprised and delighted me to think that as their dinner ladies provided the best school dinner in Europe then maybe their chefs were hiding their light under a bushel…Having MICHELIN in Estonia is a great recognition of their restaurant landscape. It shows that the Estonian culinary scene, which is not yet well known in the world, has been enriched by a strong food tradition that takes influence from the best of world cuisine.

That is definitely a cuisine that I would love to explore a little deeper…I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of Estonia…as always I look forward to your comments x

31 thoughts on “CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 23…Estonia…

  1. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more

    I agree with you and Robbie, Carol! One must not eat something made with blood. As my grandmother in my childhood had given to me fried goose blood, i am cured forever. 😉 The Estonia cuisine is very interesting. Thanks for sharing the information, Carol! Best wishes, Michael

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  2. CarolCooks2 Post author

    Like you Robbie anything jellied or with blood I don’t eat my hubby does, my father did as did my nana…The pork, sauerkraut, beets and fish and soups are more my type of food but it wouldn’t do for us all to be alike …I find it interesting that in many countries the traditional foods are alike in many ways 🙂

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  4. koolkosherkitchen

    Sprats are still my favorite, and we get them in a Russian store, produced in Riga – Latvian style. Estonian black bread is utterly delicious, and jellied bee, I believe, is closely related to calf feet jelly, a traditional German / Jewish dish. The cake that looks cottage cheese is a Russian type “tvorozhnik.” You have accurately identified all the food influences, dear Carol.

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    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Many of their recipes are ones very similar to what my gran and my mum used to make…they brought back many memories for me when I was writing and researching I am pleased you enjoyed your virtual tour 🙂 If you google Estonian cookbook quite few come up and in English the Christmas one looks interesting 🙂


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