Being in a foreign country, you expect differences. The food, clothing, language, music, etc. But would it be even stranger to visit a foreign country inside of a foreign country? This weekend that it what we did.
Setomaa is a region inside of Estonia and Russia which it similar to its own country. The Setomaa region has its own language, clothing, and food. This region has been influenced by both Russian and Estonian culture but still remains different from both. Many families have been separated because of the border and have grown apart. The culture of this lively group of people still remains and they continue to speak in their regional tongue.
The little cafe that we stopped into was an testament to different traditions in Estonia and this region. The cafe was very small, cozy and very homey. Our group too up the entire room sitting three people to a bench and the tables. The almost custard looking cake was the first thing that was passed out. It was sweet and had clumps of cheese in it. Not at all what most of us were expecting, but surprisingly good. The other food that was brought out was a soup with beans, potatoes, and meat which was quickly demolished by our table. The tea was served. The leaves and other herbs were still in the tea which caused some interest and surprise to many of the people that got tea. I was wondering if they were edible do i tried some. I am pretty sure that you were not supposed to eat the leaves. But the last thing before we left the cafe was a long tradition.
The man of the house would come around to all of his guests and serve them homemade “moonshine.” Yes moonshine. I am not 100% certain how it would compare in the US, but that is what they said that equivalent was. The head of the house would go the each individual guest and offer him/her a shot. After the shot, a sweet pickle was offered as a chaser. A PICKLE! We headed back to Tartu after but I think that many people decided that this was a tradition to take back to the US with us.
– Jessica Hawkins