They say that Estonian cuisine can be described with just two epithets: simple and hearty. That’s how it is, only there are special dishes in it, the secret of which for the most part lies in the unusual combinations of ingredients. For the sake of them, as well as for the sake of naturalness and originality, which are reflected in every delicacy of local chefs, connoisseurs of delicacies from all over the world come to Estonia.
There is very little information about the development of Estonian cuisine. It is known that it finally took shape in the second half of the XNUMXth century, and before that it was not very diverse. This is due to the harsh climate of this country and the poor rocky soil. And the way of life of the locals was simple to the point of impossibility: during the day the peasants worked in the field from sunrise to sunset. Therefore, their main meal was in the evening.
For dinner, the whole family gathered at the table, where the hostess treated everyone to pea or bean soup, cereals from cereals or flour. The main food products throughout the day were rye bread, salted herring, yogurt, kvass, beer for the holidays. And so it was until the abolition of serfdom, when the fields began to be located near the house and it became possible to eat hot meals during the day. It was then that the main meal was for lunch, and the Estonian cuisine itself became more varied.
Somewhere in the middle of the XNUMXth century, Estonians began to grow potatoes and, subsequently, this product replaced cereals, becoming, in fact, the second bread. Later, with the development of the economy and trade, the Estonian cuisine also developed, borrowing new ingredients and technologies for their preparation from neighbors. At various times, the process of its formation was influenced by German, Swedish, Polish and Russian cuisines. But, despite this, she still managed to preserve her originality and distinctive features, which today are recognized in almost every Estonian dish.
It is not so difficult to characterize modern Estonian cuisine, as Estonians are quite conservative when it comes to food preparation. For centuries, they have not changed their habits:
- for cooking, they use mainly the ingredients that the earth gives them;
- they are not fond of spices – they are present only in some national dishes in small quantities;
- are not sophisticated in the way of cooking – Estonian cuisine is rightfully considered “boiled” simply because local housewives rarely resort to other cooking methods. True, they borrowed frying from their neighbors, but in practice they rarely fry food and not in oil, but in milk with sour cream or in milk with flour. Needless to say, after such processing, it does not acquire a characteristic hard crust.
Analyzing it in more detail, it can be noted that:
- a special place in it is occupied by a cold table, however, like all the Balts. In other words, bread, black or gray, smoked herring, herring with sour cream and potatoes, bacon or boiled ham, potato salads, steep eggs, milk, yogurt, rolls, etc.
- As for the hot Estonian table, it is mainly represented by fresh milk soups with cereals, mushrooms, vegetables, eggs, fish, dough and even beer. Why, they even have dairy soups with dairy products! Among the non-dairy soups, the most popular are potato, meat, pea or cabbage soup with or without smoked lard.
- you cannot imagine Estonian cuisine without fish. They love her very much here and prepare soups, main courses, snacks and casseroles from her. In addition, it is dried, dried, smoked, salted. Interestingly, in the coastal regions, they prefer flounder, sprat, herring, eel, and in the east – pike and vendace.
- As for meat, it seems that people here don’t like it very much, since Estonian meat ones are not particularly original. For their preparation, lean pork, veal or lamb is most often used. Beef, chicken and even game are rare on the local table. Most often, meat is boiled or baked in a charcoal oven and served with vegetables and milk gravy.
- it is impossible not to mention the true love of Estonians for vegetables. They eat a lot of them and often, adding them to soups, fish and meat dishes and even desserts, for example, rhubarb. By tradition, vegetables are boiled, sometimes additionally ground into a puree-like mass and served under milk or butter.
- Among the desserts, there are jelly with milk or cottage cheese, thick fruits or berries, bubert, cakes, pancakes with jam, cottage cheese cream with jam, apple casserole. In addition, Estonians hold sweet cereals with whipped cream in high esteem.
- among drinks in Estonia, coffee and cocoa are held in high esteem, less often tea. Alcohol – beer, mulled wine, liqueurs.
Basic cooking methods:
People who have studied the peculiarities of Estonian cuisine involuntarily get the feeling that each of its dishes is original in its own way. Partly yes, and this is best illustrated by a selection of photos of national delicacies.
Fish and milk soup
Potato pigs are a kind of buns made from fried pork slices, which are rolled in a mixture of milk and mashed potatoes, baked and served under sour cream sauce.
Estonian jelly – differs from Russian in the ingredients that are used for its preparation. They make it from heads, tails and tongue without legs.
Oven meat is a dish that is boiled in a cast-iron pot in a charcoal oven and served with vegetables.
Herring in sour cream – a dish of lightly salted herring, cut into slices and soaked in milk. Served with herbs and sour cream.
Fish casserole in dough – is an open pie stuffed with fish fillets and smoked bacon.
Rutabaga porridge – rutabaga puree with onions and milk.
Bubert is a semolina pudding with egg.
Rhubarb thick – rhubarb compote thickened with starch. It resembles jelly, but it is prepared differently.
Blood sausages and blood dumplings.
Blueberry dessert soup.
Syyr is a dish made from cottage cheese.
Suitsukala is a smoked trout.
Health benefits of Estonian cuisine
Despite the simplicity and filling of local dishes, Estonian cuisine is considered healthy. Simply because it gives due place to vegetables and fruits, as well as fish and cereals. In addition, housewives in Estonia are not fond of hot, which undoubtedly affects their life, the average duration of which is 77 years.