Culinary region 2019 - VANA-VÕROMAA

Vana-Võromaa has been chosen by the Ministry of Rural Affairs as the region of promoting Estonian food in 2019.

Those looking to experience the Old Estonia at its best should head to Old Võrumaa. While Võrumaa is perhaps most well known for its UNESCO-featured smoke sauna tradition and for its own distinctive dialect, locally grown culinary delights are not to be missed during your next trip over.

Old Võrumaa is evidently good at keeping old traditions alive and well, but traditions definitely don't mean stagnation. Estonian food culture, in general, is about mixing traditions with innovation. The wisdom of making food is passed on from generation to generation and children are included early in the process. Southern Estonian dishes, similarly to the Estonian cuisine in general, are simple and seasonal. So, while summer is a good time to indulge in all the fresh produce, it's also a time for making preserves that could be dried, soured, salted, smoked or juiced.

Sõir, Estonian quark cheese, is a local staple originating from Setomaa and was once only made in south Estonia and Latvia. Sõir is made of milk, quark aka fresh or curd cheese, butter, eggs, salt, and caraway seeds.

Estonians are practical people, so smoking meat while bathing in the smoke sauna is also a well-practiced southern Estonian tradition and part of UNESCO's cultural heritage list. Southern Estonians are also big on grains, so here you'll find a distinctively local porridge made from buckwheat, hemp, and lentils. Some perhaps more particular tastes include porridge made from stewed cabbage, beans and lentils. You get the gist — southern Estonians really love their porridge.

Canadians love their maple trees and Estonians love their birch. Birch leaves make for great sauna whisks and birch juice gives your body a boost of vitamins in desperately needs after a long winter.

UMA MEKK is a brand and an active food co-op made of independent Old Võrumaa producers. In addition to managing the local label, they organise a number of food markets around the Old Võrumaa area.