IT’S BEEN A WHILE, but I had something to share. My aversion to some traditional Estonian foods has become the stuff of legend, but I’ve worked my way around with a few ingredients from the Mediterranean. I often eat tatrahelbed — buckwheat porridge — though — even without maple syrup — and soolast, salty, savory — but with my own additions.
One ingredient I add to my morning bowl of buckwheat porridge is küüslauk, garlic. Just one clove, thinly sliced will do. I add it to the porridge raw — it cooks through on its own. I also never put milk in my porridge, only ample helpings of salted butter (või soolakristallidega, produced by Saaremaa). This gives the porridge a rich texture. On top of this, I dash some cayenne pepper. This gives it that extra necessary kick.
That’s not all though. At some restaurants, you can order buckwheat with capers, onions, and a fried egg. I prefer to add slices of fried halloumi cheese to the mixture. Finally, for the really adventurous, pick up a jar of red hot Bomba Calabrese from Selver. This is an imported pepper spread — I guess is the right term for it — modeled on the piccante sauces of Calabria in Italy (the home region of the Petrones, for what it’s worth).
It includes Calabrian chili peppers (peperoncino), olive oil (of course), artichoke, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, and all kinds of other good things. My great grandmother Maria taught my mother how to cook, but Maria was from Puglia, where the local cuisine isn’t as hot. Still I have acquired a taste for spicy Calabrian food, and this stuff will clear out those sinuses. So a tablespoon of Bomba Calabrese in your tatrapuder is just what you need. Just don’t forget the garlic and salted butter. You’ll be sweating in no time.