Home > Baltic States > A Latvian dinner flies via Oslo to Afghanistan

A Latvian dinner flies via Oslo to Afghanistan

In October, I enjoyed an eight-course meal at one of the best restaurants in the Baltic States, Vincents in Riga. (Read more here.) Today, I discovered that its owner and chef Martins Ritins recently cooked up a Latvian dinner in Afghanistan for Latvian and Norwegian soldiers, having personally flown there with more than 400 kg of fresh Latvian products!

Read about his experience below!

“On the 10th November, I and four of my chefs flew to Afghanistan  with more than 400 kg of fresh, seasonal produce grown by Latvian farmers to feed our troops. We landed at the army base of Meymaneh on the border of Tajikistan after a 20 hour journey via Oslo and immediately got to work unloading all the good food we had brought with us.

Kelmenes dark rye bread and Dundagas farm butter, hemp seeds, Latgales Rusonas cheese, Aizputes barley and white beans, wild salmon cured with beetroot and caraway, Initas caraway cheese and even pumpkin grown by Laima in Dobele. The list goes on. We brought as much as we could to give our brave soldiers a taste of home. We did have one major problem though, the traditional Martins day goose.

Because of red tape, geese cannot be exported from Latvia , so the only way we could have got them there was if they had flown in convoy behind our plane. Luckily, the Norwegians came to our rescue and provided us with geese which were almost as succulent as those we usually get from our own farmer, Mary.

I have always imagined an army kitchen to be one lone chef, peeling a mountain of potatoes. How wrong I was. They hadn’t even seen a fresh potato since their arrival at the base. We soon changed all that and after a lot of hard work, we served our Latvian soldiers and their Norwegian comrades with a feast that was worthy of them.

It was a phenomenal experience to see how our defense boys live in that far off, hostile country. A huge culture shock, which served to remind me that things here aren’t half as bad as we think they are. I am full of admiration for them all and would certainly be willing to repeat the experience and prepare another feast for them. I salute them all.

I am truly grateful to all the Slow Food farmers who donated so much of their fine produce. My heartfelt thanks to Mehmet of Frisch Paradise who provided me with 50kg fresh salmon at the very last minute so that we could cure it here at Vincents.

However, the very biggest thank you is reserved for Bertolt Flick, President of Air Baltic who flew us to Oslo and back, and handled the 400 kg of cargo. Without AirBaltic we would have got no further than Riga airport on the number 22 bus.”  View the video.

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