29 November 2010

Latvian Fast Food

As you can see, Rigans eat on the go, just like most big city residents. We decided to follow their lead and eat small and quick throughout the day, to see what we could find and try to save our budget. Riga happens to be pretty expensive and one sushi dinner (passable, but really overpriced) created a hole we had to claw our way out of.Our first fast food was slow food. We had read that the Berga Bazar, which takes place every second and fourth Saturday of the month, had "slow food" stands. It just happened to be the fourth Saturday, so we headed over. It was cold and snowy, but there was a table of slow-fooders there braving the weather. The group of four or five teenagers stirred a big pot of pumpkin soup and prepared tiny roasted vegetable salads. The latter looked a little frozen and, being as we were too, we opted for the former. A few sprinkled walnuts and drizzle of olive oil on top sealed the deal. It was pretty yummy and reminded me of Brooklyn.
A few feet away, a little old lady and her slightly taller husband stood behind a folding table with a few icy tarts on top. We decided to grab one, not entirely full from the soup and curious to see what it was. It tasted like pumpkin pie mix on a cream puff. Which means, it was pretty darn good. Though it probably would have been better at room temperature. I doubt the baker knew what the "slow food movement" was.
This was back at the market, an excellent example of how eating in this part of the world works. In Poland, Lithuania and now Latvia, more often than not, a menu is visual - which is really handy when you still don't know how to say "Does that have meat?" At this place, you pointed and they microwaved it on up for you. Only if it's meant to be served hot, of course. It winds up being faster than almost any other option and, being as its served on actual plates, far less wasteful.
While Merlin grabbed a meat pie from that vendor, I found the instant coffee machine. I knew there would be one, because there is always one. Everywhere. While I was hoping for a kafija su šokolāde (a.k.a. a mocha), I jumped at the chance for some "bulyons," which I correctly assumed meant bouillon or broth.
Then, there was this. Hesburger. We had seen them all over Lithuania and, today, while driving out of the city, hungry and still poor, we decided to see what it was like. Merlin said his burger was good, but wasn't sure how it compared to Mickey Dee's and the like because we never really eat fast food. That's my shrimp wrap in the front. It was pretty yummy and very fresh tasting. That's a packet of chili mayonnaise on the left, an add-on splurge. We were going to wait and write about Hesburger in Finland, because we're pretty sure it's a Finnish chain - but that would necessitate a second trip to Hesburger and, well, we'd rather find the old ladies selling pumpkin tarts.

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