As noted in Wikipedia, the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika), is a country in Northern Europe – one of the three Baltic states, it is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.9 million people as of 2015, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Lithuanians are a Baltic people – the official language, Lithuanian (along with Latvian), are the only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.
For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, and the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe; present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were the territories of the Grand Duchy.
With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772–95, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania’s territory.
As World War I neared its end, Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the establishment of a sovereign State of Lithuania. Starting in 1940, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On 11 March 1990, a year before formal break-up of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare itself independent, resulting in the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania.
Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country’s long and difficult history.
Because of their common heritage, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share many dishes and beverages. In Lithuanian (and old-school Eastern European Jewish) cuisine, dark rye bread is king, served at every meal. This recipe is relentlessly authentic, and will make a rye bread worthy of your next homemade deli sandwich, Citizens! I have tweaked this recipe to include some ground caraway and coriander seed to flavor the bread – skip these and you have the truly classic Lithuanian version of the recipe!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Lithuanian Dark Rye Bread - Ruginė Duona
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