A culinary journey through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
In the Baltics, two worlds meet: the Baltic Sea connects Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, bringing with it cultural exchange and culinary influences. All three Baltic capitals, Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, steeped in history and culture.
Amber & Rye explores this exciting part of Eastern Europe, guiding you around the capitals, sharing stories from the locals, and discovering a dynamic, new style of cooking. Contextualized within the Baltics’ rich history and culture, this food journey is a doorway to a deeper understanding of what makes the region so exciting.
The recipes in this book explore new culinary horizons—grounded in Baltic traditions yet inspired by contemporary trends—making them modern, unique, and easy to recreate at home. In addition to the food and stories of travel, there are snippets of poetry, literature, songs, and proverbs, adding a rich layer of context that makes Amber & Rye a cultural reference point for travelers as well as a showcase for the vibrant new cuisine of the Baltic States.
Zuza Zak describes herself as a “storyteller cook” whose debut cookbook Polska: New Polish Cooking achieved much success. It appeared in six languages and was selected as one of the best cookbooks of 2016 on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme. The Independent described Polska as “capturing the spirit of a nation.” Zuza was born in Poland in 1979 and moved to the UK when she was eight. She worked in TV in for 8 years then started a supper club, A Slavic Tale. Since publishing her cookbook, Zuza has had regular appearances on Polish TV and radio. Internationally, you can see her on Food Network Finds: Poland. In 2019, Zuza started a food-focused PhD at the prestigious School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, where she continues to explore East European food from a socio-cultural perspective, through the lens of a cultural anthropologist.
“A beautiful portrait of the region—its landscape, its history, its people and, of course, its food. Ranging from familiar Soviet-era classics to unique regional and modern gems, the recipes are versatile, exciting, inviting and full of flavor. This book is a real highlight within the culinary travelogue genre.”
– Alissa Timoshkina, author of Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen
“Such a joy … beautiful Baltic cuisine … I will enjoy reading and cooking from this wonderful book.”
– Olia Hercules, author of Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Eastern Europe
“Amber and Rye is a stylish introduction to Baltic foods and culture that accents the region’s evolving contemporary scenes … a stunning account of her summer tour of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Her creative versions of traditional recipes and novel use of beloved local ingredients come alongside travel shots and profiles of Baltic cities. Zak is a personable, knowledgeable storyteller … Folk art motifs reinforce the book’s fresh, colorful vibe, as do its insightful descriptions ….”
“This culinary jaunt across Eastern Europe is full of inventive twists and adventurous turns … Zak, whose debut, Polska, focused on new Polish cooking, brings the same light touch and modern sensibility to the cuisines of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in this heartfelt collection … In brief travelogues that separate chapters, Zak combines memoir with history in exploring such locales as Latvia’s capital city of Riga, and the bohemian town of Kaunas in Lithuania ….”
– Publishers Weekly
“A remarkable exploration of one of Europe’s better-kept secrets: the food and culture of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia … Amber & Rye proves so ably, each of these countries has its own unique and distinct culinary roots and culture, and each country is currently experiencing a lively culinary renaissance, which makes Amber & Rye an especially timely and welcome addition to this season’s new cookbooks … [A] delightful and compelling exploration of the cuisines, culture, and history of these three Baltic countries.”
– New Books Network
Longlisted for the 2021 André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards