hidden europe 35

The lunch that never was

by hidden europe


We revisit a surreal moment at a tiny café tucked away in the forests of eastern Estonia.

In Estonia, some years ago, we stopped for lunch in a restaurant near Alatskivi. It was a little interlude while visiting villages inhabited by Old Believers, the devout of the Orthodox faith who, believing the Nikonian reforms to be a modernist heresy, sought refuge in the remote region west of Lake Peipsi.

With the help of Estonian and Russian dictionaries, we placed our order: fish, potatoes and onions. The unsmiling waitress, a thin woman with sunken eyes, wrote down our wishes. For an hour we waited. Other travellers came, they ate and they left. Perhaps fish and potatoes was an extraordinary culinary challenge for lunchtime on a Saturday. No matter. We are patient women, so we sat and we read.

Related article

Focus on fish

Many a coastal community, and even one or two inland spots, have realised that there's no better way to promote trade and tourism than through a colourful display of freshly landed fish and other seafood.