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Bread is a basic food in Estonia that no one skimps on and many in fact survive on. It accompanies almost every meal in all circumstances and often without butter or any other kind of spread. Sales of bread, which must not ever dip (lange) substantially, see a surge (tõus) around the anni-versary of Estonian independence 24. veebruaril, when the hors d'oeuvres (suupisted) du jour are usually something on dark rye, such as kilu (sprats), heeringas, tursamaksasalat (cod liver salad)... It's always surprising to hear people in North America watching how much bread they eat, especially alongside a meal, because they're convinced it will result in unwanted weight gain. In Eesti you come to see bread in a whole new light; as a basic need. Must-, hapu- and rukkileib or bread of the black, sour, dark rye variety is what fills you up, is good for your digestion and may well be the healthiest, most beneficial (kasulikum) part of a meal. Its reputation in this part of the world has been only positive – as a life force food source for centuries. Hence the expression "vanem kui leib", to describe something that is "older than bread"; really ancient. And the order from your grandparents to kiss your piece of bread, should you happen to drop it.   Riina Kindlam, Tallinn  


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