The small Baltic state of Lithuania has been in the news a lot recently, for some pretty cool things. Risking economic backlash from China, the country did the right thing and allowed Taiwan to open an embassy under its own name (rather than the commonly used Chinese Taipei). Second, it became the first European country to completely refuse Russian energy imports in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
So it seemed only fitting to honor the country, a place I stopped for a few uneventful hours on a cruise more than fifteen years ago, and learn about its history, food, and culture through a date night. I hope you enjoy this, and that it inspires you to create your own travel themed date nights!
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Lithuanian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Cepelinai and Lazy Cake
Cepelinai (Lithuanian for zeppelins) are oblong-shaped potato dumplings stuffed with meat, traditionally served with a creamy sauce. My sauce was a sour-cream-based (it seems all food from Lithuania has to include a sour cream component) mushroom sauce that I added smoked paprika to for the flavor and a bit of color. Making the dumplings themselves went a bit like this:
Me: This isn’t working. It’s sticking to my hands. I think I did it wrong.
A: Do you want me to help?
Me: No, I’ve got this.
Several seconds later:
Me: It’s so sticky. Help!
A, after properly flouring her hands and the surface I was using: See? That wasn’t so hard.
Ok, so I am next to useless when it comes to doughs, even those made of potato. But man do I make a killer mushroom sauce!
A made dessert, and lazy cake is an apt name. It probably took twenty minutes plus chilling, creating a concoction that tasted like cake and fudge had a baby. It’s basically crumbled cookies covered with a mixture of melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, and cocoa powder, and then made magical by the addition of anything you want (A used chocolate chips and marshmallows). Look it up and try it for your next dinner party!
Learn: A Quick History of Lithuania
If you follow this column regularly, you’ll know that all of our date nights include a dinner documentary, a quick – usually cute – glimpse at the history of our “host” country that can be found on YouTube. This one was right in line, by one of my favorite channels.
Having barely been to Klaipeda, Lithuania – and I wasn’t impressed as a twenty-something on a cruise – I wanted to experience Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. This vlog was cute, and while it didn’t give me as many of the highlights as I would have wanted, it did confirm that my cepelinai at least looked right. I’ll take that!
Watch: Ashes in the Snow
Full disclosure: it was already getting late when we started this film on Amazon Prime, and even the first half hour was filled with some overwhelming emotion we didn’t want to cause us to not be able to sleep, so we didn’t finish, although we will in the coming days/weeks. The film, based on a best-selling novel, traces a Lithuanian family arrested and sent to a Siberian gulag during World War Two. Heavy stuff.
All in all, this was another fun date night, a chance to experience a culture that is unknown to both of us. I hope we inspired you to plan your own travel themed date night to visit a new country, or revisit one of your favorites!
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