A Lithuanian doesn’t merely enjoy the view. He “swallows with his eyes” (ryti akimis)

I had the pleasure of meeting my first Lithuanian on the Summer Camp I’m working in Canterbury, England – and what a pleasure it has been! The quote in the title is taken from an article which Gabrielė sent to me, about Lithuanian expressions. Definitely worth a read at http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/26-funniest-expressions-lithuania-use/

Gabrielė Žukauskaitė outside the Canterbury Cathedral, England. The cathedral is over 1000 years old and constantly undergoing renovations or conservation, at least.
Gabrielė Žukauskaitė outside the Canterbury Cathedral, England. The cathedral is over 1000 years old and constantly undergoing renovations or conservation, at least.
Gabrielė Žukauskaitė from Lithuania.
Gabrielė Žukauskaitė from Lithuania.

I’ve not only been blessed with an insightful, interesting and fun new friend, but I was lucky enough to be treated to some Lithuanian delicacies… and jolly delicious they are! Gabre was really excited to show me a little store that stocks Lithuanian and Latvian goodies, especially because they aren’t readily available in Canterbury, where she is studying Anthropology. She was practically bouncing with joy when she saw Rugpienes (pronounced roog pi eh nis…) , a sour/butter milk product used to make a delicious cold Lithuanian soup named shaltibarschiai (pronounced shall ti borsh tjay). Att: South Africans, it’s almost like maas.

Clockwise from left: tinginys, Baltas wheat beer, pickled beetroot, rugpienis, and a selection of sweet curd including poppyseed, fruit and coconut (my favourite)
Clockwise from left: tinginys, Baltas wheat beer, pickled beetroot, rugpienis, and a selection of sweet curd including poppyseed, fruit and coconut (my favourite)

Of course, we had to go straight home and make it! So we stocked up on Lithuanian wheat beer, which we drank with a squeezed slice of lemon; around 6 different types of sweet curd, which taste like mini cheesecakes wrapped in assorted casings like chocolate and yoghurt; and tinginys (pronounced tin gji knees), a no-bake chocolate and cookie roll.

Picture this: A South African and a Lithuanian enjoying Lithuanian and Latvian food in an English kitchen. An Italian housemate and a German couch surfer walk in, and later a Kentish Englishman too.

Gabrielė tasting the shaltibarschiai. Mmmmm
Gabrielė tasting the shaltibarschiai. Mmmmm

In between our conversations about life, music and photography we made the most delicious shaltibarschiai there ever was (in my life, anyway). This is how it’s done:

Shaltibarschiai recipe                                                                                              

aka what to do with beetroot and cucumber in Summer

Boil a couple of potatoes. Grate a bunch of pickled beetroot, dice up half a cucumber and mix them together in a bowl. Add the  rugpienes until a soupy consistency is achieved. Chop up two handfuls of chives (right off the poor plant if you do it our way) and mix it all together. Add salt to taste. Allow to chill while the potatoes soften up, then serve with the potatoes on the side.

Raw, fresh and healthy Summer goodness.

Shaltibarschiai, a Lithuanian cold soup made with beetroot, cucumber and a sour milk product.
Sweet curd treats like little cheesecakes wrapped in delicious coatings; and Shaltibarschiai, a Lithuanian cold soup made with beetroot, cucumber and a sour milk product.
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