Unfortunately, even though I was on a vacation in Latvia, Chris still had to work. And doubly unfortunately, he had to work really long hours this trip. He usually didn’t get off the job until after 7:00 every night (well after dark), just in time for dinner and relaxing before bed. He got one unexpected free day right at the end of the trip, but I had already caught my flight home. Schedules were definitely out of sync this trip.
Naturally, we had to do all of our sight-seeing separately. While I was out exploring during the day, I kept notes for him and made a list of all the things for him to do and try on his one day off before his flight home. So at least we got to see and experience the same things, even if not together (all the photos from the Riga posts are a combination of our different touring days.)
On the very TOP of my list was the Riga Central Market.
I like visiting open-air food markets wherever we go, and before I went I pictured this would be the same ol’-same-ol’, but NO! It was the biggest food market I’ve ever seen! It was built in the 1920s out of old German zeppelin hangars from World War I, which were apparently MASSIVE! They only used the tops of the hangars in the construction and they were still huge. 5 full zeppelin hangars of food heaven, plus a maze of outdoor stalls :)
Each of the 5 pavilions specializes in its own type of food: Dairy, Vegetables, Meat, Fish, and Gastronomy (dry goods).
After walking through the meat pavilion, I have come to the conclusion that we Americans are way too distanced from our food. We rarely see what actual meat looks like before it is butchered and wrapped into perfect little sealed packages. The butchers in the meat pavilion were hauling whole, skinned pig and cow carcasses around through the crowds, suspending their products on giant meat hooks, and cleaving bones on large wooden blocks right in front of the customers. It wasn’t necessarily pretty (and was very questionably sanitary), but you certainly knew exactly where your food was coming from!
Ahhh! It’s looking at me!
And of course, I can’t talk about all this cool food without talking about my favorite Latvian food: Pelmenis.
They are basically the Latvian version of pierogis, aka little Eastern European raviolis stuffed with amazingness and topped with sour cream. They were everywhere! All of the grocery stores I went to had entire freezer sections dedicated to bags and bags of pelmenis of every flavor imaginable. Our friend James, who served his LDS mission in Latvia, recommended Pelmeni XL, a serve-yourself pelmeni bar, and I ate lunch there almost every day. I couldn’t get enough!
Especially of the fried ones. Oh man. Eating pelmenis was definitely on Chris’ to-do list along with the Riga market for his free day!
It’s probably a good thing they don’t have these in Norway…