Lithuanian cuisine features products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Various ways of pickling were used to preserve food for winter. Soups are extremely popular, and are widely regarded as the key to good health. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with its Baltic neighbors and, in general, northern countries. Longlasting agricultural and foraging traditions along with variety of influences during the country’s long, difficult and interesting history formed a Lithuanian cuisine.
German traditions have had an influence on Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and intestines stuffed with mashed potato (vėdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as Šakotis. Lithuanian noblemen usually hired French chefs – French cuisine influence came to Lithuania in this way. The most exotic influence is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dish kibinai which got popular in Lithuania. Lithuanians and other nations which lived in Grand Duchy of Lithuania also share some dishes and beverages. Lithuanian cuisine also influenced Polish and Ruthenian cuisines.
Despite the apparent richness of the cuisine, Lithuania has a very low prevalence of obesity. 8 Lithuanian restaurants are listed in White Guide Baltic Top 30.
Lithuanian National Dishes
Cepelinai are dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed with ground meat or dry curd cheese or mushrooms. It has been described as a national dish of Lithuania, and is typically served as a main dish.
So named because their shape resembles that of a Zeppelin airship, cepelinai are typically around 10–20 cm long, although the size depends on where they are made: in the western counties of Lithuania cepelinai are made bigger than in the east. In Samogitia cepelinai are called “kleckā”.
After boiling, the cepelinai are often served with sour cream sauce and bacon bits or pork rinds.
In Poland, it is known as kartacz. It is a part of the cuisine of Podlachia.
Similar dishes include Polish pyzy, Swedish kroppkaka, Acadian poutine râpée, Norwegian raspeball, German Kartoffelklöße and Italian Canederli.