Text by Valdis Čeičs and photos by Solveiga Kaļva, www.solveigakalvaphotography.com
Have you ever wondered what to take for your meal on a hike? If you are in the Baltics and you are having this question, then in this article you can find some ideas and explanations why certain products are the best.
The origins of the traditional food in the Baltics come from the medieval period. The nowadays territory of Latvia and Estonia were conquered by German Crusader Knights, and the local inhabitants, mostly peasants, were working hard under their rule. The locals ate oatmeal porridge which gave them strength for the exhausting farming work. Nowadays, a wide variety of different flake mixtures and instant porridges can be purchased in every shop. In order to prepare oatmeal porridge, you need to boil water and pour it on the oatmeal, wait for about 10 min and make it salty or sweet according to your taste unless it already has a specific flavour added by the producer. I prefer to make my porridge sweet by adding honey and raisins.
My recommendation for you is to try out the “Herkuless” instant porridges, read more here.
It is very nice to have a hot meal during a hike, but not always you have the time, energy or means for cooking. In these cases, the rye bread is “must have” in your backpack! The rye bread is a national symbol to the people in the Baltics, and it is treated with great respect. Rye bread has a thick crust which preserves the bread for a longer time. Many small bakeries sell their bread also in the supermarkets, they are a bit more expensive than the bread produced in big bakeries, but worth every single penny.
The best in Latvia is “Ķelmēni“ bread, which has even traveled to the Latvian solders in Afghanistan, for more info read here in this article.
What to put on your rye bread? This is a good question, everyone has his own favourites but there are products that would make it more Baltic, like the Baltic sprats or herring. These are the most popular fishes from the Baltic Sea. Traditionally, smoked sprats in oil are sold in cans, but the herring is marinated and sold in plastic containers almost in every shop.
One of the most popular producers of the Sprats in Oil is “Brīvais Vilnis”, read more here.
The weather in the Baltics can be chilly even in the summer so it is good to have with you a warm drink in a thermos. In pagan times, when the traditions were connected with earth cycles and nature, the locals collected plants for different purposes, also for herbal teas. Nowadays, you can find herbal teas in every supermarket and bio-store, so you have a great opportunity to prepare a warm drink full of natural energy for your hike.
If you are confused by variety of herbal tea brands then I recommend you to look for the brand “Lauku Tēja”, read more here.
More about herbal traditions you can find out in our Latvian Herbal Traditions and Mandala Workshop.
Healthy snack for your hike is candied fruits. Very traditional berries in this region are cranberries, rowan berries, lingonberries and quince. These are locally grown fruits that in different mixes can be found in most of the supermarkets.
Nearby Riga is Rāmklani, which produces different sorts of canned fruits. Their production can be bought in local supermarkets and in their own store, read more here.
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