Baltic is an attractive and serious look at the traditional and modern fare of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The countries have received scanty attention in recent English-language publishing and Bajada, a food writer and photographer based in Stockholm, does an effective job here of shining light on their distinctive foodways.
We’re impressed by his attention to cultural details. For example, in his introduction to a simple Lithuanian dish of cucumber and honey, he notes that, in the Lithuanian language, bees are treated almost reverently: “The words are loaded with personal sentiment—words like ‘mother’ and ‘family’ appear in place of ‘queen’ and ‘colony’… there are separate words used for death depending on whether you’re talking about people or animals, but for bees the word for humans is used.”
The food itself makes frequent use of dairy and fish, along with greens, potatoes, and grains such as barley and buckwheat. You can find here traditional dishes such as a smoked cod and potato hot pot from Latvia, Lithuanian cabbage rolls stuffed with pork and cranberry, and an Estonian barley soda bread called odrajahukarask, often eaten warm from the pan. Modernity rears its head in recipes that seem entirely consistent with the region: beer-cured salmon served with buckwheat and poppy pancakes; roast carrot soup with smoked cheese and rye crumble; lamb, beer, and honey stew served over endives. Hearty without being stodgy.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.