‘Between Shades of Gray’ gives a glimpse into Lithuanian cuisine

Courtesy photo | Cover of between shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

In conjunction with Amarillo College’s Common Reader Project, The Ranger will feature a series of articles written by Dr. Mary Dodson’s Composition I class that focus on locations, customs, history and background related to the book. This issue’s installment features a look at the traditional foods of Lithuania, which is the home of the protagonist, Lina, in Between Shades of Gray.

Vibrant pinks, golden brown hues and traditional whites – those colors represent what one would see when exploring Lithuanian cuisine.Consisting mainly of starches, rye-based dishes, beetroot-based plates and beer, Lithuanian food provides warmth and energy for the harsh weather conditcommon reader logoions and lengthy days of the Baltic nation. Nourishment in Lithuania stems from an agriculturally based society as well as from relatively poor economic conditions. Lithuania’s food serves to provide the people with warm, hearty fuel to keep them going throughout their daily lives. Lithuania is known for its Cepelinai, or potato dumplings. Cepelinai are stuffed with well-done minced meat, cheese or mushrooms and topped with a generous amount of sour cream. The meal is particular to Lithuania because the starch-based food provides the people with energy for endurance and a meal to warm them up from the cold.A vibrant piercing pink, cold Borscht or beetroot soup is another common staple in the Lithuanian diet. This soup, made of onions, hard-boiled eggs, beets, cucumbers and dill flavoring, unlike Cepelinai, is commonly enjoyed in the summer months.People of Lithuania use the soup as a way to refresh and revive themselves from the summer heat.Juoda Duona, or dark rye bread, is a common base for Lithuanian meals because of rye’s ability to remain fresh for prolonged periods of time and its versatility. Lithuanians eat Juoda Duona plain or in the form of a drink called Gira. Gira is a beverage made from fermented rye bread that causes natural carbonation and a low but present amount of alcohol. The drink is served cold and viewed as a way to relieve one’s parched mouth on a hot summer day.Lithuanian food may not sound appealing to the typical American palate, but to Lithuanians it provides sustenance on brutally cold winter days and refreshment on sweltering summer days.

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