Lithuanian cuisine is based on traditional rural fare. Typical starters include marinated mushrooms (marinuoti grybai), herring (silkė) and smoked sausage (rukyta desra) along with cold beetroot soup (saltibarsčiai). A popular national dish is cepelinai, or zeppelins – cylindrical potato parcels stuffed with meat, mushrooms or cheese. Others include potato pancakes (bulviniai blynai), and koldųnai – boiled or fried dumplings with meat or mushroom filling. Popular beer snacks include deep-fried sticks of black bread with garlic (kepta duona) and smoked pigs’ ears. Pancakes (blynai, blyneliai or lietiniai) come in a plethora of sweet and savoury varieties.

Most cafés and bars serve reasonably priced food. Well-stocked supermarkets, such as Iki and Maxima, are found in the main cities and towns. Many restaurants are open between 11am and midnight daily, with cafés open from 8/9am and bars closing at 2am at the earliest.

Beer (alus) is popular, local brands being Švyturus, Utenos and Kalnapilis, and so is mead (midus), Lithuania’s former nobleman’s drink. The leading local firewaters are Starka, Trejos devynerios and Medžiotojų – invigorating spirits flavoured with herbs. Many lively bars in Vilnius and Kaunas copy American or Irish models, although there are also plenty of folksy Lithuanian places, while cafés (kavinė) come in all shapes and sizes. Coffee (kava) and tea (arbata) are usually served black; ask for milk (pienas) and/or sugar (cukrus). Forego international fizzy beverages in favour of gira (kvass), a refreshing drink made from fermented bread.

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