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Food, Dining, & Drinks in Lithuania

Culinary Influences

Lithuanian cuisine is a result of their climate and short growing season. They have limited vegetables and produce available, but have access to the Baltic Sea, making a base of fish and hearty crops. They have also traditionally been involved in animal husbandry so have integrated a number of dairy products into their diet.

However, today's cuisine is more a result of adopting nearby ethnic foods. Poland, Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany have all had great influence in Lithuania and the Lithuanians have integrated ingredients or foods from each of these groups. These groups have also increased the popularity of pork and potatoes, which are common ingredients in both Poland and Germany.

Staple Foods

Bread: a dark rye bread or bagels are commonly served with Lithuanian foods
Potatoes: potatoes are the most common starch in Lithuania

Regional Variations & Specialties

Saltibarsciai: beet soup that is served chilled and takes on a bright pink color
Koldunai: stuffed dumpling like Poland's perogi

Dining Etiquette

Lithuanian Food - Potato dumplings
Potato dumplings

Dining in Lithuania is respectful, but informal. Instead of hard-fast rules, etiquette is more based on respect and politeness. Unlike many southern European countries, dining in Lithuania isn't an overly social event.

Before seating yourself, many families have a regular seating order so let your host show you to your seat. After being seated, keep your napkin on the table and eat in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). Also, take small portions at first, since you'll most likely be offered a second helping.

In some households, or more likely, on some occasions or holidays, dinner will be served with hard liquor, which should be drunk after toasts. The host will begin the toasting and you may or may not be invited to give a toast later in the meal.

When eating at a sit down restaurant with a server, you should round up or tip about 10% of the bill. In bars a tip is appreciated but not necessary.

Drinks

Lithuania has thus far fought off the coffee craze taking over much of the world and most locals prefer tea. Of course coffee is still available, as are other drinks, such as soft drinks, juices, and milk.

For alcoholic drinks, beer and vodka are the most popular, but few are produced domestically. Fortunately for the Lithuanians, they're a short distance from great beer-producing countries like Germany and vodka-producing countries like Poland, which are where many of the imports come from. Wine is also available throughout the country.

Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Lithuania, but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013