Decided to update my list after living here for a few months now. The first 6 items were on my original list.
- They don’t eat crisps or peanuts with beer – Crisps and peanuts are definitely off the menu when drinking beer. Instead you eat herby garlic croutons or salted, dried fish known locally as Vobla (pronounced wobbler). It’s a bit like chewing salty leather to start off with but you quickly get in to it. Due to the fact that it is very salty you need more beer to wash it down.
- They like to sing. – I don’t mean singing in the shower or around home, although they probably do that as well, but they like to gather in big crowds to sing. I mean really big crowds. In fact so big crowds that the singers at the back probably can’t see the conductor at the front. Every 5 years the Latvian Song and Dance Festival takes place. The last one in 2013 had over 30,000 performers, Impressive!!
- Tea doesn’t always mean Tetley or PG Tips – The Latvians are very in touch with nature. So any plant which has some medicinal properties is dried and made in to a tea. My favourite is mint and chamomile with organic honey.
- If it moves they smoke it. No that’s not street tall for killing. They seem to have a great affinity for smoked food; in the markets you can find virtually all fish and animals smoked and ready to eat. In the local market they even had smoked pigs ears and snouts.
- Most Latvians have a summer house.- No not a shed at the bottom of the garden but a second house in the countryside. Many Latvians rent a second house for the summer and some own a summer house. Come Friday in the summer city dwellers hit the road and head for the countryside. I’m told it can be a bit like a Le Mans start or Friday afternoon heading north out of London on the M1. In fact some people live permanently in their country houses during the summer months.
- Latvian men like to wear hats made out of oak trees – Ok I exaggerate. Oak tree branches and only on one day of the year. Midsummer day is a time to celebrate and the men wear a ring of oak branches around their head. As everyone knows oak is a very strong wood and the significance of a man wearing this is that he is strong. Obvious really.
- Latvians love to forage for food in the forests, particularly mushrooms and berries.
- Saunas are a necessity if you live in a country house. A very popular pastime particularly being beaten by branches of a birch tree.