Latvia is located in a temperate climatic zone with fairly long and cold winters and warm, short summers. Due to the harsh climate and relatively poor soil quality Latvians have always worked hard to provide food. Food has thus always been assigned great value by Latvians. Bread has a special place in the Latvian consciousness, and respect for it is encouraged from early childhood.
Latvian food typically consists of agricultural products, with meat featuring in most main meal dishes. Fish is commonly consumed due to Latvia's location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Their food has been influenced by neighboring countries in the Baltic region, in particular Sweden. There are also strong German and Russian influences.
Most ingredients in Latvian food are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork. Latvian food is generally quite fatty, and uses few spices. Food in Latvian cuisine is rich in calories and Latvians like eating out.
A typical meal could include such dishes as meat croquettes, meat and fish, pork ribs, steamed sauerkraut, baked potatoes with sour cream, vegetable salads, soups the dark rye bread. Other items such as home-made fresh cheese, cakes, biscuits and desserts made of local fruits and berries topped with whipped cream could be on the table, along with beer and home-made wine.
Breakfast is normally light and usually consists of sandwiches or an omelete, with a drink, often milk.
Lunch is eaten from noon to 3 p.m. and tends to be the main meal of the day; as such it can include a variety of foods, and sometimes also soup as an entrée and a dessert. Herring, pickled and served cold, is often eaten, especially around this time. Smoked fish is a real speciality in the coastal regions as they have some of the finest choices of smoked fish.
Supper is the last meal of the day, with some choosing to eat another large meal. A typical dinner time dish could include a joint of pork, boiled potatoes, fresh vegetables or a cold salad and nice glass of homemade wild berry juice.