Estonian cuisine once consisted of little more than meat and potatoes but under the influences of Russia, Germany and neighbouring Scandinavian countries, the range of dishes has been greatly diversified. Rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products continue to play an important role but now visitors will find versions of popular international dishes.
Traditionally the first course of any Estonian meal would be a cold dish of meat and sausage, potato salad and herring. Soup may be served between the starter and main course though usually features as the main dish with thick, hearty soups and stews made with different meat, potatoes and often blended with sour cream. Even sweet soups exist in Estonia, specifically leivasupp which consists of black bread & apples seasoned with cinnamon & sugar.
Estonians are serious about their bread with three different names for it and black rye bread is served alongside practically every savoury dish. The variety of breads is quite astounding! Sweet things are also popular and typical Estonian desserts include kissel, sweetened juice thickened with starch, and sweetened curd cut into bite size pieces.
Locally brewed beer is a favoured beverage and will often accompany a meal. Wine is also popular, as well as kvass, a traditional Slavic and Baltic fermented beverage commonly made from black or regular rye bread.
Safe eating while travelling in Estonia
Food hygiene standards in Estonia are generally very high so travellers are unlikely to fall ill during their trip. As with anywhere in the world, it is important to be wary of any meat or fish that has not been cooked thoroughly. In Estonia, much of the meat is slow-cooked so this won’t usually be an issue. Furthermore, if anything looks old, unclean or poorly prepared, it is best to avoid it.