Estonian cuisine — cooking traditions and national dishes of Estonians.

National dishes often mean, first of all, typical dishes of peasant cuisine until the middle of the 19th century. However, in later times, some dishes have become traditional and widespread; cuisines of other nations adapted to their own traditions.
It can be said that Estonian cuisine — this is what Estonians cook in Estonia. And let the dish bear the Russian name „solyanka“ — in Estonia they are prepared in the Estonian manner, and their taste is completely different. Simple things like potato salad or pancakes also have their own nuances in different culinary cultures, and in Estonia they also have an Estonian taste. Perhaps someone thinks that mixing mayonnaise and sour cream — a culinary crime, but in this country, potato salad cannot be prepared otherwise.

German, Swedish and Russian cuisines have had a strong influence on Estonian cuisine at different times. Compared to Latvian and Lithuanian cuisine, Estonian cuisine is more "marine".

Food raw materials, technology and compositional techniques of Estonian cuisine are quite simple, the taste is natural. Of the raw materials, the most characteristic are potatoes, fish (especially herring), pork and organ meats, milk, sour cream, cabbage, peas, cereals and black bread. The food is simple and nutritious, sometimes greasy. In traditional Estonian cuisine, food is mostly boiled in a liquid medium, and frying is rarely used. Estonian cuisine uses little seasonings and spices. In addition to salt and onions, dill, parsley and cumin were traditionally consumed; marjoram in blood sausages, bay leaf and allspice in aspic. The originality of taste is achieved as a result of unusual combinations of food raw materials (fish with lard, peas with milk). The general taste and aroma of Estonian cuisine — natural, slightly sour, milky.

Until the 19th century, Estonian cuisine was not very diverse. Rye bread was the staple food. The very word "bread" in Estonian it means both food and subsistence in general. Various signs were associated with bread. All year round, along with bread, the main food of Estonians was salted herring. They drank kvass or curdled milk, brewed beer for the holidays. Until now, kama — a combined oatmeal made from flour ground from pre-roasted seeds of rye, oats, barley and peas, which was mixed with fresh milk or curdled milk. In some regions, oatmeal jelly was eaten with cold milk or butter.

The peasant went to the field during the sunrise in the summer and ate for the first time at 8-9 o'clock in the morning. During the day they dined in the field, ate bread and salted herring. The main meal of the day was dinner at 8-9 pm and all the inhabitants of the peasant house gathered for dinner. For dinner, they prepared pea or bean soup, on Wednesday and Saturday, porridge from cereals or flour. Only after the abolition of serfdom, when the fields began to be located near the house, it became possible to cook hot food during the day, the main meal was not dinner, but lunch.

Festive and ceremonial dishes brought variety to the diet of Estonians. By the holiday, gray Sepik bread appeared on the table. For Christmas and New Year they made sausages, initially with a filling of cereals, later with the addition of blood. It was believed that this sausage brings happiness and contentment to the house. On the wedding day, but also on other holidays, jelly was always served. Barley porridge or pancakes made from barley flour were brought to the bride's bride.

Since the middle of the 19th century, when potatoes became known to Estonians, they replaced many dishes and took second place after bread. In the second half of the 19th century, thanks to the development of the economy and trade, the choice of raw materials significantly expanded and cooking technologies diversified. An important period in the development of Estonian cuisine was the beginning of the 20th century until the 1930s, when due to economic development, the expansion of international relations, the emergence of women's magazines and gastronomy courses, a new, slightly more refined and diverse layer of Estonian cuisine began to form. On the festive table, along with the traditional jelly, pate and various salads appeared. Homes began to cook different canned food.

During the Soviet period, Estonian cuisine through the state catering system was influenced by Russian, Caucasian and even Central Asian cuisine. After the restoration of independence, the country's international contacts began to expand and traditional cuisine began to lose popularity. But for example, at Christmas, Estonians still put on the table jelly, black pudding with lingonberry sauce and roast pork with sauerkraut. Buns with whipped cream are baked for Maslenitsa. And in the evening on Midsummer Day (celebrated on June 24), the air over Estonia is filled with the aroma of barbecue and grilled sausages.

Today, on the traditional Estonian «cold table» usually includes pickled herring with sour cream, aspic, whipped liver pate, potatoes, green salad, Rosolier salad, pickled cucumbers and pumpkin, stuffed ham rolls, meatballs with mayonnaise and stuffed eggs. Such a festive menu is still preferred especially in rural areas.

Dairy products occupy a special place in Estonian cuisine. Milk, curdled milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and homemade cheese are included in the daily diet. Typical breakfast — porridge, scrambled eggs or sandwiches, recently also muesli with yogurt. Quite a lot of people drink coffee, preferring light-roast varieties of the Scandinavian type.

Soups — a fairly common dish. The most common are potato, cabbage and pea soups. The meat is usually boiled in one piece, the rest consists of potatoes, cabbage or peas, carrots, pearl barley or pasta. Smoked pork is added to pea and bean soup.

Characteristic of Estonian cuisine are mixed cereals, vegetable-cereals and vegetable porridges, for example barley porridge and mulgipuder potatoes. As a main dish, sometimes there may be potato porridge or boiled potatoes with a thick sauce of fat, flour, broth or cream and a piece of meat, minced meat or sausage. Popular dish mulgikapsas — sauerkraut cooked with pork and pearl barley.

From vegetables in the first place on the use is a potato, on the second — cabbage and peas, then carrots and rutabagas. Beetroot is rarely used, mainly in beetroot salad. Since the early 1990s, potato consumption has been declining, and rice and pasta have been eaten more. The popularity of various semi-finished products is increasing.

Estonian herring and sprat are used more than other types of fish in Estonian cuisine. This fish is fried and made into casseroles, poured with an egg-milk mixture and sprinkled with finely chopped dill. "Tallinn sprat" spicy salting are very popular. In the seaside parts of Estonia, flounder is used; in the interior, fish dishes are prepared from pike and bream; near Lake Peipsi, from smelt. Hot smoking is mainly done on herring, bream, eel.

Low-fat pork predominates in meat second courses. Estonian cuisine uses the method of slow-cooking large pieces of meat in thick-walled pots, either in an oven or a charcoal oven. It is used for second courses, usually with boiled potatoes. Second courses are prepared from the liver, boiling it in a sour cream sauce. Meat dishes also include the popular jellied pork head and legs served with boiled potatoes or bread.

The assortment of traditional sweet dishes includes bread soup, jelly with whipped cream or milk, whipped fruit juice semolina mousse, cottage cheese cream with jam, apple casserole, bubert, as well as pancakes with jam and various cakes.