‘Flavours as vivid as the scent of pine forests’: why I love Baltic cuisine

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Food writer Caroline Eden celebrates the region’s distinct — and underrated — flavours, from quince lemonade and cloudberry jam to birch syrup and blueberry soup

When I was planning a recent journey back to Riga, its food filled my thoughts more than anything else. I kept picturing the Latvian capital’s cafes, bistros and moody beer bars. Such longing was evidence, to me at least, that I was coming back to a city that knows how to feed people and with memorable flavours: smoked sprats, black pudding sausages, quince lemonade, cloudberry jam, pickled garlic, herby butters and bitter balsams tasting of liquorice.

As anticipation began to build, a question crossed my mind: why are some countries revered for their food while others are not? The cuisine of the Baltics, rich with variety and imagination, can often rival that of the nearby Nordic countries yet it is rarely held in the same esteem.

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