#EstonianWay of cooking

#EstonianWay of cooking

Source: Johannes Hõimoja

They say that Estonians are the most stationary nation in Europe – thousands of years ago, our forefathers gathered on this land and decided to stay. Estonians carry with them traditions and wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation. The roots of our story go way back. Now it is time to look back, appreciate old recipes and ancient customs. We want to prepare traditional dishes in a way that all Estonians know and love while also adding a contemporary touch.

You can't separate an Estonian from the sea or the forest. From summer to late autumn, you can find us in the forest, foraging for berries and mushrooms. We have plenty of them! Our land is also perfect for farming. Sometimes we can go crazy over the nasty weather, but the climate here is what really gives our vegetables their flavour and character. The Estonian character was built under foreign rule. We suffered but we also learned from the experiences. Traditions of foreign cuisines have also left their mark on Estonian plates. Sometimes we have even fully adopted new traditions without realising that they may not be entirely our own.

Estonia is such a rich place. There is no way you can call the land of four seasons poor! The seasons bring diversity in nature and food and force us to be inventive when it comes to preparing and preserving food. These recipes use old Estonian methods of food preservation: salting, smoking, marinating and fermentation.

About the chef

Janno Lepik, Head chef of Leib Resto&Aed

I have had the pleasure to spend my childhood on the hilly landscapes of South Estonia, between the fields and the forest. Freshly picked wild strawberries, chanterelle mushrooms, the very first, thin peapods and all the other gifts of Estonian nature sparked my interest in food early on. I have been making sure these gifts of nature are properly valued ever since. Although I've been living in the capital for years now, I continued using local produce when setting up the restaurants Leib Resto ja Aed and Umami. The best we have to offer still comes from our forests, our sea and our own farmers. The changing of the seasons, high quality, fresh produce and the tenacity of the Estonian people will always inspire me.

Photo by: Johannes Hõimoja