Duke Jacob of the Duchy of Kurzeme and Zemgale was on the throne from 1642 until 1862, and during that time the duchy rapidly expanded ship building operations, opened the first factories and improved agricultural output. Jacob’s ships plied the seas to export goods, to establish colonies in Tobago and Gambia, and to bring sugar, coffee and spices back to Europe. This was the age when potatoes first appeared in Latvia, though it took a couple of centuries for them become beloved.
Coastal residents have always eaten various sea, river and lake fish dishes, including smoked sole, Baltic herring, cod, bream or eelpout, baked lampreys, salted sprats, Baltic herring and common herring. Fresh and lightly salted Baltic salmon is a delicacy. Whole fish are baked on hot coals, including pike perch, trout, carp, catfish and European perch. Guests can participate in catching and smoking fish.
A great delicacy in Kurzeme is lamprey from the Usma River. It is served in soups, baked or smoked. During the season, there will be dishes of garfish, smelt or Baltic herring, while sprats, herring and salmon are available year-round. Rye is used for rye bread, sourdough bread or carrot buns, and barley is used for various porridges. Local ladies will be happy to teach you how to prepare local dishes.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy pie, honey cakes and poppy seed pastries that are still prepared according to a Medieval recipe. For dessert, have some blackberry dumplings or a dessert made of rye bread, honey, lingonberries or cranberries, and sweet cream.