Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Ten Foods Estonians Love to Eat

One of the things I always wanted to do when I first visited Estonia in 2003 was take a trip to an Estonian supermarket. I was eager to see what local Estonians ate and what products lined the shelves. The Rimi in Aia Street was the first supermarket I visited in Tallinn and I remember walking in there with my family, in awe of all the wonderful Estonian products on display. It may seem like a trifling thing, a trip to a supermarket, but for an Estonian who grew up in Australia who only ate food with English labels, it was a real treat to see everything written in Estonian!  

It was a real heart-warming experience browsing the aisles that day and deciding what to consume now and what to save and take home for later. Even now, some 13 years later I still get a buzz from supermarket shopping in Estonia, my only dilemma is how do I squeeze it all into my suitcase?

Growing up in Australia I was exposed to only a few Estonian foods but in the years since I have come to love many more. Here are ten foods that Estonians love to eat and everyone else should try at least once.

1. Black bread (leib)

Considered sacred to all Estonians, black rye bread has been a staple part of the Estonian diet since the dawn of agriculture. It is absolutely delicious too!

2. Sprat sandwiches (Kiluvõileib)

Whenever there is a gathering, sprat sandwiches can be found. Usually topped with dill, eggs, cucumbers, herrings or other meats, sprats make a healthy snack. 

3. Rosolje salad

This popular salad made form beetroot, potatoes and herrings is a family favourite and can be purchased practically everywhere in Estonia. To try making it yourself, click here: Vana kooli rosolje

4. Sour cream

Estonians love sour cream and put it on virtually everything. You can find it on top of soups, salads, meat dishes, potatoes etc... the list goes on. Here's a fact you might not be aware of - in Estonia sour cream and milk are packaged in plastic, not cartons.   

5. Lemon pepper 

Estonians love to season their food. Lemon pepper is very popular in Estonia and tastes great too!

6. Kohuke - curd snacks

Invented around 70 years ago, kohuke is basically freshly pressed sweet curd covered in chocolate or caramel. There are plain as well as flavoured varieties containing fillings such as berries, chocolate, coconut and kiwi fruit. They're extremely popular with both adults and kids.

7. Garlic bread (küüslauguleib)

If you are used to the white fluffy garlic bread you get in Italian restaurants then you will receive a bit of a shock when you order garlic bread in Estonia for the first time. Deep fried, smeared with garlic and butter and served with a white sauce, Estonian garlic bread is different yet packed with flavour!   

8.  Cinnamon rolls (Kaneelirullid)

Delicious to eat any time of the day, cinnamon rolls can be found in all supermarkets and bakeries across Estonia. They're easy to make as well, here's a recipe: Kaneelirullid aka Estonian cinnamon rolls

9. Cheese

Estonians are some of the biggest cheese consumers in the world per capita. Local supermarkets offer a great selection.

10. Gingerbread (piparkoogid)

A family favourite at Christmas time, no home is complete without the traditional piparkoogid on the table. Most Estonians make their own gingerbread but Kalev, the major confectioner in Estonia, offers a tasty option too.