One hundred percent sourdough rye bread is a staple in and central to Latvian culture, identity, and culinary practice. For over a thousand years Latvians have been baking this bread—using rye flour, rye sourdough starter, a hint of caraway, and little else—in 900°f wood-burning ovens.
On long voyages, Baltic sailors fill the holds of their ships with this bread because it naturally stays good for months. Like rice in many Asian countries, rye bread ( known as rupjmaize in Latvian) is considered holy. It is never wasted. To leave it bottom side up on the counter is considered disrespectful...but if you forget, that's okay, because our bread won't stale quickly. And if it does, you are blessed with the foundation for the classic Baltic beer snack: fried rye bread croutons tossed in garlic butter. (It also makes excellent bread pudding.)
In Scandinavia, especailly Denmark and Sweden, rye bread forms the foundation of their excellent open-faced sandwiches. Unlike many of its Scandinavian, German, and Russian cousins, our Latvian rye bread is absolutely wheat-free and is considered the ne plus ultra of rye breads.