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Let’s Hear It for Carbohydrates!

3 minute read
Michael Brunton, Anthee Carassava, Angela Leuker and Jan Stojaspal

This spicy sausage is wrapped in pannathe precious caul fat from a pigbarbecued and served with salad and pita bread. As an appetizer or a main course, sheftalia is best accompanied by a local dry red wine.

Vepro knedlo zelo
Any combination of pork, dumplings and sauerkraut is bound to be filling but, carefully prepared, this classic dish offers some finesse, too. Gently roasted pork is mixed with dumplings made from potatoes rather than the more usual bread, while the sauerkraut’s acidity is cut with a little sugar. Wash down with a glass of Pilsner Urquell beer.

Vere pannkoogid
A challenge even to the heartiest carnivore, these “blood pancakes” are made from a batter of pig’s blood, water or stock, barley flour and marjoram. Often served with sour cream and a whortleberry-and-apple salad.

A stew made from cubed beef (or poultry, pork, mutton or venison) that is slow-cooked in its own juices along with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and paprika. Served with dumplings or potato gnocchi, prklt can range from mild to fiery, depending on the variety of paprika used.

Lamprey eels
On the evolutionary scale, the boneless lamprey is about as low as a fish can go. But since Latvia has an abundance of lampreys, it has learned to make the most of them. Fresh from Riga’s huge fish market, they are fried in a mustard marinade, smoked, or jellied and canned. Latvians export their lamprey delicacies throughout Eastern Europe.

A traditional staple for manual laborers, cepelinai is made from a mix of raw and mashed potatoes that is formed into oval patties and stuffed with ground beef, cheese or mushrooms and boiled for 30 minutes. Served with bacon.

Stuffat tal-fenek
Back when fenek (rabbits) were wild and plentiful, they were an everyday item of the island’s rustic diet. Nowadays, the butcher usually provides the rabbit for this hearty stew that gives its name to the fenkata, a get-together for large groups. The meat is quickly fried before being simmered for an hour or three with vegetables, tomato puree and red wine. The sauce is served on spaghetti as a first course; the meat follows, with potatoes, for the main.

A traditional family favorite of cubed pork stewed with smoked bacon, sauerkraut, fresh cabbage and mushrooms. Chopped prunes and red wine add richness to the bigos (mishmash), which is cooked in a huge pot and improves with reheating, unexpected visitorsand vodka.

Bryndzov halusky
Grated raw potatoes are kneaded with salt, flour and milk (or egg) into a loose dough and dropped in small clumps into boiling water. The resulting gnocchi-like halusky is served with bryndzaa soft sheep cheeseand fried bacon bits to make a hearty meal.

A sweet, light bread dough, filled with chopped walnuts and spices, is rolled up into a log or shaped into rounds for baking. Variations of potica abound in Central and Eastern Europe, but nowhere is it more delicious than in Slovenia, where it’s traditionally served as a festive dish with coffee.

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