The culinary heritage in the Pašvitinys area

Janina Samulionytė

The culinary heritage from the first half of the 20th century in the area of Pašvitinys had been forming under the influence of nature and economy peculiarities of the region. Its land is fertile with medium heavy loam soils. The intensive agriculture determined the specificity of the culinary heritage in the Western Aukštaitija region including the Pašvitinys area. People used to cook many flour meals: dumplings, thick pancakes and porridges, to bake ordinary or scalded rye bread, ragaišis (wheat and barley flour bread), rolls, cakes and bagels. The bread used to be sliced by a master of the house, but with the life style changing, during the interwar period and after the WWII, each family member used to slice off his/her portion himself. The master used to sit at the end of a table. The old tradition to eat dumplings during the community works or calendar festivals, especially the Pentecost, was gradually declining before the WWII. In 1950s and 1960s, the housewives already had not baked bread and bought it in the shops.

Before the WWII, the people in the area of Pašvitinys began using modern techniques of meat preservation and did not produce the traditional skilandis (a belly of pig stuffed with meat and smoked) but they stuffed sausages or preserved meat in the fat. Villages used to buy meat very rarely. The officials of the Pašvitinys town used to buy meat in local shops. Fresh smoked and cooked sausages with cabbage were the main course at the calendar feasts.

The home-made malt beer was the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. The master of the house used to meet guests and see them off with a beer jug. By the mid-20th century, even by the 1970s, there was a custom of beer filtration in the area of Pašvitinys and all North Aukštaitija; but it vanished as olden home-brewers died. People of Pašvitinys also used to arrange collective meals (sambariai) after visiting the fields with a jug of beer and bread loaf–a ritual of sanctifying the future harvest.
The everyday tableware consisted of ceramic or metal bowls and spoons. The well-off village and town dwellers used to have some tableware for feasts, solemn occasions and guests. The food used to be served to guests in plates; and it was popular using large plates for meat dishes. At the beginning of the 20th century, the forks used to be tabled only for guests. But before the WWII and after it the fork became an everyday tool. In Soviet time, people used to buy tableware in local shops, Riga or local profiteers.