The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisine to Estonian Food
The five countries with the most similar food to Estonia are all part of the European Union. Four of the five border the Baltic Sea. These counties also have relatively cool weather. The cuisine of Estonia has Scandinavian, German, and Russian influences.
- Latvia borders Estonia to its south, so these Baltic countries share many similarities in its traditional cuisine. Popular Latvian dishes such as grey peas with bacon, potato pancakes, and sautéed sauerkraut are similar in Estonia. Both countries also have a penchant for rye bread, often enjoyed alongside hearty soups and stews.
- Finland and Estonia have similar languages. They also have similar food as well. One prominent dish found in both countries is blood sausage, known as mustamakkara in Finland and verivorst in Estonia. Additionally, both nations indulge in meat stews like the Finnish “lihapullat” and the Estonian “hakklihakaste.”
- Germany does not border Estonia, but for centuries Estonia had many ethnic Germans, especially among the merchant class and upper class. Sauerkraut, a staple in both countries. German sausages, such as bratwurst and bockwurst, havw counterparts in Estonia like verivorst and suitsupeekon. Furthermore, both countries love to eat schnitzel, with the German version being particularly popular in Estonia.
- Sweden is yet another country the borders the Baltic Sea on this list. As a result, both countries love to eat fish. Pickled herring, a beloved Swedish delicacy, is also embraced by Estonians, especially during festive occasions. Classic Swedish meatballs find their counterpart in the popular pikkpoiss, Estonian meatloaf.
- Czechia is the only landlocked country on this list, but its food also has German and Slavic influences, just like Estonia. Both countries enjoy variations of mushroom soup, like Czech houbová polévka and Estonian seenekooriksupp. Additionally, Estonia’s love for cabbage dishes finds resonance in Czech cuisine, with popular dishes like cabbage soup (zelňačka) and braised cabbage (dušená kapusta).
The Least Similar Cuisines to Estonian Food
In stark contrast to Estonia, the five countries with the least similar food have significantly warmer weather. Moreover, these countries are far less developed than Estonia. Compared to Estonia, these countries eat very little potatoes or pork products, two of the most prominent ingredients in the nation’s cuisine.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is located in the center of Africa. The country features vast swathes of dense rainforests. As a result, its people eat a wide variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, and unique ingredients. Cassava is by far the most dominant staple food in the country, a crop that is not commonly seen in Estonia.
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa that borders Congo. Cassava is also the most common starch there, however South Sudanese eat their fair share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Unlike Estonia, fish is not as commonly eaten in South Sudan, although the Nile River runs through it.
- Chad is mostly desert land. It is a sparsely populated, landlocked country in Africa. Chad’s cuisine is far different from Estonia’s. It heavily relies on staple foods like millet, sorghum, rice, corn, and beans, which form the basis of its dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also more prominent in Chad.
- Cambodia has the least similar food to Estonia in Asia. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava. Cambodian cuisine makes use of different herbs and spices than Estonia. including lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, to create a unique flavor profile. Furthermore, many of the country’s Buddhists avoid eating meat.
- Solomon Islands is another country that borders the Pacific Ocean. It is a Melanesian archipelago, where most people live near the coast, so fish makes up a much greater share of the meat eaten in the country than in Estonia. Furthermore, sweet potatoes, yams, rice, taro, and coconuts are all common ingredients in the food there.
Estonia’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Banana, Watermelon
Vegetable: Carrot, Tomato
Starch: Potato, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.