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Getting to know Lithuania: gastronomic journey “The Taste of Freedom”

On a warm evening of autumn, the park of Lithuanian Presidential palace was filled with freedom fighters’ songs and the smell of their cuisine. During the gastronomic journey “The Taste of Freedom” famous people, active members of civil society were invited to get to know more about partisans’ household and their daily routine.

According to one of the organisers of the event, historian Luka Sinevičienė, “We tend to explore Lithuanian freedom fighter’s history only through the perspective of war. What is more, our knowledge about partisans is based on their warfare achievements, battles, or the tragic fate. However, it is way much more important to stress that before making the fateful decision and standing to defend their homeland, guerrillas were ordinary people who had simple jobs, dreamed, had families. Even after becoming freedom fighters, they faced daily challenges – relationships, psychological condition, hygiene, clothing or just food. The story of their daily life is very interesting and worth consideration: we can feel it, touch it, smell it or taste it even today.”

If we could take a glimpse into casual day of freedom fighters, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what were their main dishes? How was the food prepared? What were the main tendencies of gastronomy in those days Europe? These questions were discussed by historian Rimvydas Laužikas, sommelier Arminas Darasevičius and journalist Vytaras Radzevičius throughout the event. Specialists of the field not only revealed the history of partisans’ cuisine, but also invited to taste original soup.

“Today I tried to reconstruct the cuisine of freedom fighters. To be more precise, it was an improvisation on this topic, because it is hard to say what was their exact food at that time. Most likely, it was the food they could get from people. It could have been soup in several occasions, but not too often because of the smell and smoke, which would reveal their location. My offer for the guests of the event was a soup with pearl barley, carrots, onions, mushrooms, butter as well as some cream and thyme”, – explained Vytaras Razdevičius.

The most famous Lithuanian sommelier Arminas Darasevičius also did not miss a chance to attend the event. An entrepreneur, who is also interested in Lithuanian food heritage, believes that this type of events unites different people, reminds the history of the state, and leaves an exceptional feeling of security as well as the sense of peace. “This unique environment evokes a sense of greatness. I am proud of Lithuania, its’ history and people. Being there, tasting the soup of partisans’, listening to historians makes you realize that things in Lithuania go well. We only need to enjoy them and, the most importantly, never forget our history”.

It would be probably impossible to find a person, who would have more knowledge in the field of Lithuanian culinary heritage than prof. Rimvydas Laužikas. For many years, the Dean of Vilnius University’s Faculty of Communication has been researching the history of Lithuanian food, publishing numerous books and consulting restaurants. “We, nowadays people, often tend to contrast the past and the present, to draw a line between what already happened and what is waiting in the future. However, at least in the gastronomic tradition, we could see a consistent evolution rather than contradiction. Various things that emerged in the past were taken over and could still be found in our kitchens, pots, restaurant menus or summer picnics. Here as well, in this dish prepared by Vytaras, we find many layers. Grains are typical for prehistoric times, mushrooms also have a long-standing tradition as people were not able to live only from agriculture and cattle breeding, so they were forced to find out a way to use goods from the forest. Mixing cultural and wild ingredients in one dish is a typical feature of Lithuanian gastronomy. There are also onions in the soup that Vytaras is cooking. They came to our country in the Middle Ages, along with the Tartars – unlike in other countries around Lithuania, we still use the word of Tatar origin for their name. Finally, the thyme was used to serve the dish, a reminder of our gastronomic tradition’s links with Mediterranean cuisine. What is really changing over the time is our relationship with food. Butter, one of the most luxurious products in historic cuisine, was also added to the dish. Nowadays we rarely realize that even in interwar Lithuania the possibility to have butter on your table every day was a sign that a person belongs to a higher social class”, – explained Rimvydas Laužikas.

Alkas Paltarokas, who has already organised several exclusive events promoting citizenship and patriotism, stresses that they are particularly valuable and necessary. “Our freedom cannot be treated as a given. It requires protection and understanding that it is a natural right of every nation. One can experience the taste of freedom while fighting for it. There can be various forms of fight. Nowadays we are in the frontiers of the information war and it is our duty to protect our heroes and educate Lithuanian citizens. We must do it today, instead of waiting for tomorrow”, – spoke Alkas.

During the event, historical spices enriched the gastronomic experience. Guests of the event were introduced to “19490216: Code of Decision”, which is the newest exhibition of the Centre of Civil Education. A surprise was the opportunity to touch exhibits from the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania – binoculars, buttons or even a camera! Historical experience was enhanced by the sound of psaltery and freedom fighter songs performed by Agnė Sabulytė.

Unique items of freedom fighters were especially admired by the designer Giedrius Paulauskas.  According to him, being able to see and know as much as possible about the subtleties of daily life of freedom fighters is the most important thing: “This event is truly unique because of its location and opportunity to touch the items that belonged to freedom fighters, which you would not be able to do in the museum. It is even more exceptional to taste the soup of the period of freedom fights: in this way, you can not only touch and feel the history, but also smell and taste it. Above all, is a fact that we speak about post-war period from different angles.”

“The exceptional interest in this event marks the importance to understand not only the heroic, but also the human side of freedom fighters. The question whether I, as an ordinary person, could defend the Homeland, if necessary, find a clear answer in my head: „of course yes.“ There is no need to doubt or wait: we are already facing various challenges, information attacks, thus each of us can be helpful for our country. Knowing what is happening in the information space, how not to be influenced, we can unite and develop a more civic, more active, community-based society”, – said Aurimas Navys, a reserve soldier and security expert.

Small gastronomic gifts, related with Lithuanian culinary heritage, were provided by Daiva Breivė, the head of the travel company “Megaturas”. Sharing her thoughts, Diana Breivė stressed: “The sense of freedom is essential for me. It is our greatest asset. Freedom enables you to discover the tastes of your own country as well as the foreign ones. I am proud that „Megaturas“ is a Lithuanian company, which contributes to the promotion of active citizenship and the spread of knowledge on Lithuanian history.“

Original kitchen boards were presented to the participants of the discussion by “Baltic Foods”.

The exhibition 19490216: Code of Decision” is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of the Council of the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement. The exhibition presents the life stories of eight Lithuanian Freedom Fighters, who signed the Declaration on 16 February 1949, and draws attention to the complex value choices still relevant today: personal well-being or responsibility for the future of the homeland? The exhibition is free and open on weekdays (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and on weekends (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.).

LR Prezidentūros rūmuose. Valstybės pažinimas- gastronominė kelionė „Laisvės skoniai“

LR Prezidentūros rūmuose. Valstybės pažinimas- gastronominė kelionė „Laisvės skoniai“Originalus renginys LR Prezidentūros rūmuose! Šiltą rudens vakarą Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidento rūmų parke skambėjo miško brolių dainos ir sklido partizaniško maisto kvapas. Renginio metu žinomi žmonės, aktyvūs pilietinės visuomenės veikėjai buvo kviečiami į gastronominę kelionę „Laisvės skoniai“, leidusią iš arčiau susipažinti su partizaninio pasipriešinimo dalyvių kasdienybe ir buitimi.

Posted by Vilnius LifeStyle on 2019 m. spalio 2 d., trečiadienis

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