[Sca-cooks] Estonian food

Stephanie Ross the.red.ross at gmail.com
Mon Jan 28 05:02:15 PST 2013

I had the great fortune to have visited the country of Estonia twice since
2008. I have been to Tallinn, the capitol, which is right on the coast of
the Gulf of Finland, twice, and took a bus ride to look at the folk
costumes and viking stuff at the Estonian National Museum in
Tartu (research for my Russian persona, doncha know). However, I quickly
found out that the Estonians hate the Russians that were brought in during
communist times. And I mean HATE. It was difficult for me as an American
(and a Rusophile) to see the blatant racism. Although I do understand it as
about 25% of the population of Estonia are transplanted/second generation
immigrants from Russia. Estonia stopped publishing its laws in Russian in
2009 and also shut down the Russian newspapers. One is only an Estonian
citizen if one can prove paternal heritage in the country before WWII.
Being born there does not make one a citizen, so the Russians are SOL.

Tallinn is the only intact medieval city left in Europe because Hitler
wanted to live there after the war, so he never bombed Estonia. It is quite
the tourist city with visitors from all over the world. There is a medieval
restaurant there called Olde Hansa, after the Hanseatic League that ruled
Estonia and the Nordic countries during the late middle ages (
www.oldehansa.ee). The restaurant also has a bakery that serves meat pies
for take away - the carrot and parsnip one was divine and unusual. I loved
walking down the cobblestone street eating a hot meatpie fresh from the
oven. The only thing that would have made it better was if I had been in
garb, although the street vendors that serve spiced nuts were in 14 cent.
medieval clothing, and Olde Hansa had a medieval store where I could have
bought clothes, shoes and ceramics. I did buy a Bartman mug for my former
lord. I saw the original from an archeology dig in a museum in Riga, Latvia
on my second trip.  The best part about Estonia is that everyone under 35
is fluent in English because of the Internat/Skype.

Of course I bought a cookbook on my first visit. The cookbook had the most
beautiful tablet-woven belt pictures on the front cover. Estonia is the
only country in the world (that I know of) where they still make
tablet-woven belts for their national costumes. I bought a half-dozen (all
they had) 3" square wooden weaving tablets at the museum in Tartu - wish I
could have found more! Here is a wonderful Estonian food blog
www.nami-nami.blogspot.com. I met the author Pille on my first visit to
Tallinn for dinner, when she took me to Olde Hansa. Food in Estonia is very
German - boiled potatoes, cream sauces, the best sauerkraut that I have
ever eaten, boiled meat, sausages and cabbage.

I plan to post a recipe for an Estonian type of potato salad called risolje
when I get to work. As I was flipping through the pages trying to find it,
two things jumped out at me regarding recent discussions on this list. The
first was regarding groats, which refers to crushed barley in northern
Estonia. The groats were cooked in water in a 10 to one ratio of water to
groats, then milk was added at the end of the cooking time. "Groat broth
was eaten with bread (OMG, the black and wheat bread there was to die for)
and baltic herring". This book also mentiones birch sap that was made into
a fermented drink in eastern Estonia.

At Tallinn Technical University, where I stayed with my travel companions
in the dormatories, the cafeteria served a meat-filled bread ball that was
fantastic and for which I cannot find a recipe anywhere. Is there anything
like it in period? It wasn't a dumpling like pelmeni; it was literally a
white bread ball baked with ground meat in the middle. I would buy three at
breakfast and put them in my pockets to eat later. I think they would make
a great portable breakfast for SCA if only I could find a recipe or more
info about them. OK, off to work, will post the recipe later.


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