LITHUANIA: A QUICKLY ACQUIRED TASTE

Lithuania Travel is launching a series of articles called Taste the Seasons Change. The new project provides cultural explorers an exclusive look into the country’s quite unusual superfood scene.

With the help of experts and over 10,000 Lithuanians – who voted in a poll to select the Lithuanian dishes that should be included in a national menu – a 3-day menu has also been put together for taste-hunting tourists. The 15 most popular dishes have made it onto the menu and become part of the Lithuanian gastronomic experience. They will take pride of place on the menus of restaurants across Lithuania.

Participating restaurants will be offering the perfect menus for a one-day or three-day visit – these restaurants will be marked with the national menu label. This means that fans of Lithuanian cuisine and food tourists will be able to easily find the perfect places to taste Lithuania’s favourite dishes and drinks. Here’s the full 15-dish menu, which is perfect for a 3-day visit.

Here are three of the many bizarre Lithuanian superfoods:

            • Birch Tree Sap. This refreshing superfood (or rather, “superdrink”) is rich in manganese, magnesium, and polyphenol antioxidants—that protect the body against free radical damage. Though revered by the locals for millennia—due to its growing popularity—this drink was recently deemed as the country’s “new kombucha”. The tradition goes back so far no one can tell you with certainty when it all started. However, it is known that already in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania tree sap was used as a beverage and the basis for making beer and even sparkling wines. Sap was an important culinary ingredient not only among peasants, but also among royalty. Over time, it became an important part of the natural lifecycles of the population.

            • Nettle. It’s a truly versatile ingredient that finds its way into soups, is mixed with quark cheese, or eaten in salads. Loaded with vitamin A, calcium, and other anti-inflammatory nutrients, traditional nettle dishes allow the body to recover faster after a long day of sightseeing.

            • Baltic Wheatgrass Shots. Though in most cases an acquired taste, this green health elixir is a true nutritional bomb. It’s densely packed with vitamins A, C, and E, and is irreplaceable for keeping the energy levels high and the immune system strong.

Lithuanian cuisine is known for its naturalness, for ancient cooking traditions served up in new ways, and for aesthetics, without which no breakfast, lunch or dinner is imaginable. Don’t be surprised if instead of an avocado, you’re served a kohlrabi, or if instead of tuna, you get a piece of local zander. And if for dessert you’re offered a piece of curd cheese pie with nettle filling or red beet jelly! All you have to do is sit down and taste everything in front of you.

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