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What Is Lithuanian Food? — Cooking in America



– So, we in the East Bay, and we're about to go to Mama Papa Lithuania It's said to be the only Lithuanian restaurant West of Chicago

I don't know that much about Eastern European cuisine, so we're gonna find out today, – Traveling around the world, I explored so many cuisines, but as Lithuanians, when we come to US, especially West Coast, there's no Lithuanian food I decided that, you know what, I need to make a little move, and I talked to my mom and we just cooperated together and decided to open it – So what's the dish that we're gonna be seeing? – Its called cold borscht, the thick kind of yogurt based soup – Okay So this is just some grated, boiled beets? – Then the rest is, fresh cucumbers, green onions, dill

– So like a lot of dill your guys' cuisine too? Is that the predominant? – Yeah, dill is very popular You know, Lithuanian is about nine months cold, pretty much, so when the summer comes, and when the dill starts growing, it gives this great, summery taste So, we're using this high quality farmer's yogurt (playful music) – I love how vibrant it is I think of cold countries, everything is kind of stewed down, but this is, you can see how fresh it is

– Yeah, so, its really traditional and very old dish in Lithuania (siren wails) So next, to make a cabbage roll, basically what we do, we slightly boil them, we take ground pork, mixed with boiled rice, (hip hop music) and there you go We are frying slightly just to keep all leaves together (pan sizzles) Oh yay! And the next step is to boil it It absorbs more flavor from the onions and carrots

(hip hop music) – Hey! Who is this? – I'm sure it's gonna be better cook than I am My daughter, my little baby – Yeah, its awesome to have her in the restaurant So, three generations in the restaurant now that you see, right? – Yes – That's beautiful – So while cabbage is cooking, we're going to do another dish, which is potato pancakes with meat in it

– Okay We need to prepare the potatoes We're going to use this amazing machine for grating them (food processor grinding) – Whoa! That think has a lot of power, huh? – [Vaidas] Oh yeah, the real deal – Holy shou-shous, that is amazing

(synthesized music) – Now we're preparing the meat, which is basically ground pork with seasonings and onions Take a piece of dough, potato dough, make kind of like a patty, then, we just going to put some meat, and top it off with the same amount of potato dough – [Sheldon] Any memories of eating potato pancakes? – I mean, I've been eating them since day one I guess, but my favorite used to be when mom used to make lots of it, and then after dinner, leftovers A couple hours later, they still warm, she used to put between two plates and wrap into the towel, and put under the pillow to maintain the heat, and then you just pull out from the pillow that, open it up, and you just got those semi-warm potato pancakes You just grab one with your arms and just eat it like that

And the last step is just to pan fry them (hip hop music) – Alright, that looks good, nice golden brown (hip hop music) – Lithuanian food, Lithuanian culture, not too many people know about it, so, to see other Lithuanian restaurants around the world is really hard Its basically like to find a needle in the haystack – Why don't you think, that there's no Lithuanian restaurants? – Maybe one of the answers would be that Lithuanians are very humble

They think other nations' foods are great, and their food is just good for themselves, just to enjoy at home, which is not true because before, they haven't been traveling a lot, but because of Soviet Union, and all closed curtains, so that why probably they have that mentality going, but since when, they traveling around, and now they see that their food is as great as any other's I couldn't understand at the beginning either (hip hop music) – I always thought of potato pancakes of just having potatoes, and that's it It turned out alright Oh, look at the color of it! This some sour cream? Usually on the side with it? (hip hop music) – Wow, Chef, you made a good job on this

Delicious! – All of the flavor of the meat as it cooks gets dispersed into the potatoes, so it pick up all of that flavor too (soulful music) Alright, the crown jewel in the middle, that is the stuffed cabbage (soulful music) Its awesome because the dish should feel so humble, and warming Even though I've never had Lithuanian stuffed cabbage, it reminds me of something that I wanna eat when I get home (soulful music) I look at this and I think of summer

I love the freshness of it – Yeah, like my mother's – Exactly (chuckling) – When I opened the restaurant, many Lithuanians keep coming in and asking, Oh, so how are the other people? Did they like cepelinai, potato dumplings, or cabbage rolls? Expecting that, oh, they didn't like it, and I'm like, no, everybody loved it! They're like, really? And I said, yes, because our food is great And they're like, wow – I love that humbleness – Confirms that – Tell me about Lithuania

What makes Lithuania, Lithuania? (chuckles) – We've always been as a gateway to East and West We tried to keep our Baltic heritage, which is, basically, rich in mushroom, in berries, in fish, but then later, once all the nations start marching back and forward, so we started picking up lots of exchanges, and that's just a bit of representation of the culture We didn't have much of the books released until mid-centuries What was existing in Lithuania was word of mouth From generation to generation, just the words were traveling, so the language was traveling, that's why we have so many words from Sanskrit

None of the other languages kinda maintained that much – So what's the importance of having a Lithuanian restaurant for your daughter? – The heritage and a little bit of culture is being passed to my younger generation, which is, basically, my daughter She can still know where the Dad's culture came from So, she comes here every day She knows that here, she's gonna get potato dish or cabbage dish

She hears the language, not only from me, from customers – You created a spot where other Lithuanians can come and feel at home Hopefully you're a catalyst for other restaurants across the country to open – Living in this vibrant, this basically, innovation center of the world, suddenly, I just have this Mom's cooking every day – Yeah, yeah, yeah

Why are you guys so good at basketball? (laughs) Some good basketball Lithuanian passes – I guess its in the blood – Sadouskas be big, throwing up buckets, that guy (laughs) (hip hop music) That's just amazing – Bringing the voice of my Arab heritage feels very important, I don't know how many times when I start a dream

Source: Youtube

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