With her amazing cooking books and blog, Renata is one of the most inspiring Lithuanian food bloggers. Some time ago we invited her to decorate our table and now is the time to learn more about her kitchen rituals and traditions.
Tell us about your kitchen philosophy. Why is seasonal food important?
I always try to choose the freshest products. And seasonal fruits and vegetables almost always guarantee freshness. I descend from a family to whom the food is very important. I know what the real taste of fruits and vegetables is, which is why I don’t feel tempted by tasteless off-season products, which can be bought all year round in the supermarkets. Thus, I prefer local fruits and vegetables provided by local farmers. The best thing is that we have an opportunity to receive a part of our favourite local veggies from my husband’s grandmother’s garden.
How do you come up with new recipes? Do you follow a traditional approach or prefer experimenting?
I have a deep respect for traditional cuisine and time-honored family recipes, however, I prefer to experiment in the kitchen. Even if I follow a recipe, I always change something, so I never prepare dishes the same way twice. I try to adapt chosen recipes to the season or, at least, make them healthier. As a food blogger and a cook book author, I try out new recipes and tastes almost every day. However, on special occasions, such as Christmas or Easter, I prefer to cook traditional dishes in the same way as my grandmothers used to.
What is the meaning of tradition in your life? Do you have any special family traditions related to meals?
I am a tradition person. I really like the traditional lifestyle and seasonal holidays. Together with my family, we have created our own traditions: every Friday we have a pizza party with my children. We knead the dough and cook together. Our Sundays are for family lunches and traditional weekend pie.
What does “home” mean to you?
Home is the place, where we (me and my closest ones) can feel safe and be ourselves. It always feels nice to come back home. My family members are happy when our home smells delicious and the whole family gathers together around the table. I could compare home to food. It doesn’t matter how stylish or luxurious the house is. If it is not cozy, it is just a beautiful hotel. I could say the same about food. No matter how beautiful it looks like, first of all, it must be delicious. Food is associated with its taste and home – with coziness.
What is the role of your family members in the kitchen? Do you share some responsibilities with them?
I must admit that at the moment I’m the queen of the kitchen. My 10-year-old daughter wants to help me there the most. Her brother, my 17-year-old son, comes to the kitchen when I am not at home. He mostly cooks following the recipes from my books or blog. My husband Martynas gets up early and prepares a cup of our favourite tea for everyone. He usually cooks and grills outdoors. We like to cook meals all together outside while being on the picnic or spending time in our summerhouse.
Do you have any specific cooking rituals?
The most important ritual is to go to the kitchen in a good mood. I noticed that when I’m in a bad mood, my meals are not as delicious as they usually are.
How do you imagine the future of Lithuanian cuisine?
I would like Lithuanian people to buy high-quality local and seasonal products instead of cheap imported ones more often. By choosing these products, we are not only eating healthier, but also support local farmers.It would be nice to know that Lithuanians choose their food wisely and responsibly. I hope that people will look at Lithuanian cuisine differently and won’t think that other cuisines are superior in any way. Traditional Lithuanian food is very interesting. It depends on seasonal products because we maintain a strong relationship with nature and time. I think that we can attract others with our uniqueness.