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.
Looking for an opportunity to go hiking? Check out our Hiking tours.
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Our guide Valdis Ceics was brilliant – sharing his local knowledge and fun facts, telling stories about the history of the Baltic States and how it affected the people. Not only did Valdis speak good English he also had to speak German. In fact on one occasion Valdis was only going to do the german tour, so several of us “jumped ship” and joined him.
June 6, 2019
Right from planning my trip through completion, Baltic Nature Tours team was a pleasure to work with. Ieva was always very responsive to my queries. Valdis was our tour guide and he was very good! He was very accomodating of the group’s preferences and when weather was dicey, he quickly helped pivot to alternatives. He had very good recommendations for things to do in free time as well as restaurant to try. The tours he led were very infortmative and always had a quirky fun edge. Certainly made my Baltics experience very memorable. I had a great experience and would certainly recommend them!
June 4, 2019
My wife and I had a wonderful time visiting Lithuania with the help of our guide Grazina. She was very knowledgeable about the places we visited, several of which were ‘off the beaten path’. Also, our local specialist Ieva arranged local guides for other places we visited such as the Open Air Museum of Lithuania, my grandfather’s village Zemaiciu Naumeistas, and the city of Kleipeda.
May 22 – May 30, 2019
My cousin and I had a great experience in Lithuania! Our tour guide Minda was fantastic and made the trip a special experience for us. We called him our Guardian Angel. As we drove or walked he gave us such great historical and cultural information just as we wanted. He felt like a friend or relative and was so comfortable to spend time with. We highly recommend him.
Leva did a great job helping us with our itinerary. I told her some places we wanted to go and the types of experiences we were looking for and she organized it perfectly for us. When I asked for some changes or soecial requirements like air conditioning she came through. Our only disappointment was not finding Kugelis! We found a dish that was very close though and enjoyed all of our meals. I will recommend Leva and Kimkimtravel to my fellow travelers!
Jun 5 – Jun 11, 2019