DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ESTONIAN AND CHINESE FOOD – TINGTING (CHINA)
Estonia is about 8,000 kilometers away from China. A Western country and an Eastern country differ in many aspects. Differences in cuisine are easy to detect. Today let me tell you how different it is between Estonian and Chinese food.
Dark Bread (Leib) vs White bread
I have never tried dark bread before I came to Estonia. I was surprised not only by its color but also by its special taste. It tastes a little bit sour which took me some time to get used to. Dark bread is more nutritious than other common bread, and it tastes better with pumpkin seeds or cereal. You can find it everywhere in Estonia, and it’s usually provided before a meal in restaurants.
Bread came to China at the end of Qing dynasty. Usually, in Chinese supermarkets, you can only find the basic white bread or bread with sweet fillings. Nowadays people like to bake homemade bread as well. Recently there was a piece of news about an Estonian girl selling dark bread in Beijing. It was quite popular, and people would like to accept this new taste in their life.
Potato vs Rice
Both Estonians and Chinese have a lot of ways to cook potato, but the role of it is totally different.
Potato is often served as main food in Estonia just as in other western countries. It is as common as bread, like everyday food. There are mashed potato, fries, baked potato wedges, baked baby potatoes, etc. My favorite one is potato salad which I had at a local friend’s home. It is salty and with some sausage and pickle cubes inside, which is quite tasty.
Potato in Chinese food has the same status with other vegetables. We like to slice the potato and fry it with other ingredients such as green pepper, eggplant, and meat. We also like to cut it into cubes and stew it with pork or beef.
Rice is the main source of starch of meal to Chinese. Here in Tartu, it is quite easy to find rice. There are different kinds in supermarkets, the round one, the long one, and even sushi rice. A tiny advice for Asian students coming to Estonia is to bring a rice cooker with you. It helps you cook rice more quickly and taste better.
Dessert & Sweets
One of the most common and also typical Estonian dessert is Kohuke. It is a kind of diary product with cottage cheese inside and covered with crispy chocolate. It is quite sweet and has multiple flavors, such as vanilla, raspberry, blueberry, etc. People like to eat Kohuke as a part of their breakfast. It can give you enough energy for the whole morning. It is also easy to find in supermarkets and quite affordable.
I have to admit that sweets in Estonia are more diverse than in China, especially chocolate. Most chocolate here is not only tasty but with beautifully designed packages as well. If you do not know what to take with you as gifts for friends, chocolate is a good choice. Kalev is one of the most famous chocolate brands in Estonia. In Tartu, there is a Kalev store in which you can also find really exquisite handmade chocolate.
The most traditional Chinese sweets usually can be found in street stands instead of supermarkets. When there is one week before Chinese New Year, people buy a kind of white melon-shaped sweets which is called Tanggua. The meaning of it is to worship the Kitchen God, but people can eat it as well.
There are a lot of other kinds of food that you must try when you come to Estonia, such as blood sausage, kama, and fish pudding. They will give you a totally different experience and more deeply understand about Estonian culture.
Of course, there are other kinds of Chinese food as well, like Kung Pao Chicken and Sichuan hotpot. I can cook some basic dishes by myself. You are always welcome to come and have a taste if you are interested.
You might miss the food from your home country, but actually, you can find most of the ingredients you need here, so you only need to take some special spices with you, find the recipes and be a great chef!