Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Healthy, delicious birch juice brings boost to Latvians

By Mike Collier  /  AFP, RIGA

“Birch juice not only rejuvenates, but also protects skin cells from oxidative stress, including ultraviolet rays, environmental pollution and consequences caused by inflammation,” his study found.

A new generation of chefs are also turning birch juice — long regarded as a humble drink for peasants — into a must-taste ingredient on the menus of Riga’s trendiest restaurants.

“It is especially good for poaching fish, making syrups and for sauces,” said chef Martins Sirmais, who co-owns several of Riga’s most fashionable eateries and is Lativa’s top celebrity chef.

“We have been promoting the use of birch juice for the last five or six years and it has definitely gained popularity, especially among foreigners who have never tasted it before,” Sirmais said.

Even visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his wife were treated to birch juice at a recent state banquet in Riga, said Elvira Stepanova of Latvian President Andris Berzins’ office.

Given that the Latvian president’s name derives from berzs — Latvian for “birch” — it seems appropriate that even the leader of the country cannot resist the sap.

“Yes, President Berzins taps birch trees in the springtime for their sap and he does drink birch juice,” Stepanova said.

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