Lithuanian cuisine

Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialities. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with Eastern European (Polish, Ukrainian) and some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine, also Hungarian, Romanian, and Georgian cuisines as well as Ashkenazi cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country’s long and difficult history. Because of their common heritage, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share many dishes and beverages. Thus there are similar Lithuanian, Lithuanian Jewish, and Polish versions of dumplings (koldūnai, kreplach or pierogi), doughnuts spurgos or (pączki ), and blynai crepes (blintzes). German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and potato sausages (vėdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as Šakotis. The most exotic of all the influences is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dishes kibinai and čeburekai are popular in Lithuania. Torte Napoleon was introduced during Napoleon’s passage through Lithuania in the 19th century. The Soviet occupation badly damaged Lithuanian cuisine. As elsewhere in the Soviet Union, however, its people were allowed to maintain their own small garden plots; these were, and are, lovingly tended. After the restoration of independence in 1990, traditional cuisine became one of the ways to celebrate Lithuanian identity. Despite the apparent richness of the cuisine, Lithuania has a very low prevalence of obesity.