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vastladThe magusa/lett (sweets counter) at the Gustav Cafe kohvik in Kalamaja, Tallinn on vastla/päev (Shrove Tuesday). All eyes were focused on the vastla/kuklid (Shrove Tuesday buns) on this day. These ones, with jam inside, in addition to the usual vahu/koor (whipped cream) were 1.65 € and worth every penny. Gustav Cafe is the “little brother” of the legendary Werneri kohvik in Tartu.


It can safely be said that vastla/päev, Shrove Tuesday, is the day when you see the most people on the streets in Tallinn walking holding funny little boxes. The only day in fact. They were everywhere, a growing trend that's nice to see. The bearers of the koogi/karbid (cake boxes) were mostly younger people. Not to say that older people don't eat and enjoy vastlakuklid, but their spectrum is broad.


Every year there are articles rating the best buns out there, but my experience is, that if you want that once a year tasty treat, you should buy it at a bakery and not a supermarket. Alas, a lot of retired people are not willing or able to buy the fancier models. I saw a description that some even contain “mingi mandli jura” – some kind of almond nonsense.


lagerlofThat would be an homage to the Swedish version semla, which is filled with mandel/massa (almond paste) and/or whipped cream. Maitse üle ei vaielda – there’s no accounting for taste.
I tried my first ever vegan vastlakukkel at a downtown kohvik this year and it was expensive, a whopping 2,90 €, but it was fantastically nämma.


The bun wasn't simply bland white bread (which the cheapest ones tend to be), and it contained a törts of moos (jam) and kookos/kreem (coconut whipped cream).

The other traditional vastlapäeva food is herne/supp (pea soup). Check! And you should go tobogganing. Unfortunately, this year vastlapäev was the warmest day in a while and all the snow we still had on Feb. 27 (not much, but the ground was white), was gone for the last day of the month.


People used to believe that there was a great correlation between the length of your sled run and the height of your flax the following summer.


The word vastlad comes from the Danish fastelavn.


The accompanying fastlags/bulle are eaten in various forms in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


Photo and text:

Riina Kindlam, Tallinn


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