I enjoy a crusty white bread, a baguette, a bagel, as much as most. But there is a special pleasure in slicing off a hearty brown slice of Latvian rye bread—and it takes a bit of elbow grease to do so—and slathering butter onto it, fresh from the farm, and biting in. A slice of this bread is a meal in itself.
Since going organic, I’d marveled at all the flavors I’d been missing due to over processing. It was like discovering food all over again, or for the first time. Buying local also ensured freshness, with a good example being tomatoes that were sun-ripened rather than reddened artificially in greenhouses and left tasting like cardboard. Varieties were astounding at the farmer’s markets. While supermarkets offered just a few types, fresh food markets offered a dazzling variety of red, yellow, green, purple, striped tomatoes, many of which I hadn’t even known existed. And that was just tomatoes…
mushroom hunting and preparation in Latvia) are just a few of these forest delicacies. All I needed to complete the meal was butter, fresh from the farm, and milk, also organic. I was beginning to understand, making the connection, on why going organic back in the States had seemed like such a natural change for me to make…
Completing that Latvian table are not only fresh flowers, but also song. Add a shot glass of snabis (vodka), a pitcher of home-brewed alus (beer), tejas (teas) and sulas (juice) made from berries, herbs and flowers grown around the home garden, kvass (a naturally sweet carbonated drink made from fermented dark rye bread), kefirs or ruguspiens or paninas, varieties of buttermilk or milk-based drinks similar to yogurt, and the table becomes a gathering place for people to share the simplest joy of living—by sharing their bounty.
(To be continued…)
Valmiermuizas alus, my local favorite
Baravika sviesta ar rupjmaizi (boletus mushroom sauteed in butter, with dark rye bread)
Central tirgus at dusk