Interesting facts about Estonian food
1. Kiss a bread
Since bread has been a symbol of food in Estonian farms for centuries, there are numerous interesting beliefs regarding this matter. Many of these are related to that the bread luck would remain in the house and food would never end on the table.
For example, a loaf of bread was not be placed on the table the cut end toward the door for that way bread could have left the house. Likewise, a warm bread was to be broken, not cut with a knife - otherwise the bread luck may leave the house.
However, there is one belief that is still followed in many homes - in case a piece of bread is dropped, it should be picked up and given a kiss in order to show a respect for the bread.
2. Bread for Dessert
Black bread is quite a mandatory food on every Estonian's dining table, therefore, this is also a main food product that the Estonians living abroad ask to bring it along when you visit them or take it with them when moving far from home.
Thus you should not be surprised when Estonians eat bread for snacks between meals or use it for making a dessert.
In thousands of homes hardened bread slices are placed into water to soak and boil in order to eat this soup cooked with raisins, cinnamon and sugar with sour cream for a dessert. Sometimes also apples are added to the bread soup, however, some families love to add whipped cream or milk to the soup instead of milk. It's a matter of taste!
3. Bloody delicacies
Since by traditions when animals were slaughtered in farms, everything in animals had to be used for food or forage, then Estonians were very skilful in making dishes of blood.
Even today, the Christmas table of every respectable Estonian includes blood sausages cooked to black and a sourly lingonberry jam is added to black sausages to give a special taste.
But there are even more other delicacies of blood that Estonians to a greater or lesser extent eat nowadays. For example, you could buy a blood dumpling (In Estonian verikäkk) that tastes good with sour cream. Blood can be also used to cook blood pancakes and even a blood bread.
4. Estonian national dish - shashlik
There is one day in a year when all Estonians consider an Armenian national dish shashlik an inseparable part of the traditional cuisine - 23 June, the Midsummer Eve.
Estonians rush into shops where the shelves are filled with hundreds of types of shashlik - made from pork, chicken, turkey, lamb and in all sorts of interesting marinades. In the night of 23 June, bonfires are started in all over Estonia and shashliks are skewered and grilled slowly by the fire.
Naturally, a proper Midsummer Eve includes good Estonian beer, lots of merry songs and dances and an ancient tradition - jumping over or in some case through the fire. Notably, old Estonians knew that the bonfire has a healing and purifying power. In addition, the girls who were thinking about their loved one during the jump got married shortly.
5. Explosive mustard
Estonians have traditionally seasoned their food with salt and pepper and we do not see herbal or oriental spicy tastes in our national dishes. However, there is one ingredient that takes even some of the foreigner's breath away - this is our strong mustard.
Mustard has been part of Estonians' food table much longer than for example the world's most popular sauce, ketchup. And unlike the Nordic countries where mustard is a pleasantly mild and even a slightly sweet sauce, our mustard has always been salty and very strong - even so strong that overly large drop on a piece of meat may make you cry like many less informed eaters have experienced over and over again.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that mustard is very respected also in medicine - mustard that instantly opens your nostrils helps to alleviate cold and even a sore throat. Estonians are also placing mustard plasters on their chest and back against the cold and soothing the tired feet with a mustard bath.