Smorgasbord (Aukstais galds)
This is what you would serve at a big party, a formal anniversary dinner, a wedding reception, a post-funeral reception — any formal or semi-formal occasion. The more formal the occasion and/or the more people attending, the more different kinds of dishes you serve.
The essence of a Latvian smorgasbord is: variety, quality, and appearance. Unless it would look messy if cut up, every item making up the smorgasbord must be already sliced and arranged on a plate, tray, in a basket, etc. Garnish everything! Most Latvians use chopped scallions (green onions) for colour (instead of parsley), and radishes cut into roses or slices as garnish (for a nice red accent).
First you put out the savoury items. After these are all eaten, you clear off the buffet table and put out the desserts, and the coffee urn. This is similar to a Swedish smorgasbord, but it is almost invariably all cold dishes (and you don't serve Swedish meatballs!).
Meat and fish dishes
- Ham (a Black Forest ham, cut into slices, would be ideal).
- Poached or baked salmon, cold, served whole, covered with a layer of sour cream & garnished.
- Smoked salmon, with a side dish of lemon wedges.
- Jellied Meat (Pork Hocks in Aspic) (galerts - it's a must)
- Fish In Tomato Sauce (optional, but inexpensive)
- Homemade Pâté (optional)
- Boiled Neat's Tongue (optional; this is just beef tongue, but "neat's tongue" sounds snazzier)
- Pickled herring, served with sour cream (optional, but very Latvian).
- Smoked eel (optional, but delicious! Latvians love it).
- Smoked whitefish (optional, but also delicious).
- A whole smoked turkey (optional, expensive, and not available everywhere)!
- Bacon Buns (pīrāgi) (optional, but a common appetizer).
- Cheese: a selection of European cheeses, already sliced and ready to put on bread. I suggest Swiss cheese, Gouda, Havarti, etc.; if at all possible, include some homemade Jānis' cheese.
Often two or more kinds of potato salad are prepared: one with beets, one without, and/or one with small pieces of pickled herring mixed in.
Breads are sliced and placed in baskets. Butter, not margarine, is set out on the table.
- Light rye bread (Latvian "Sweet and sour rye", if available).
- Dark rye bread, such as pumpernickel.
- White bread (French bread is good).