Western Europeans invented the dining room in the late 18th century but in Lithuania a room dedicated to meals, the so-called stalava, had existed since the 16th century.

Scholars researching the court culture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania say that tastes and customs of the Lithuanian nobility were shaped by influences from neighbouring countries in the East and the West.

Marius Daraškevičius, an architect who is interested in the court culture of the Grand Duchy, said that Lithuanian noblemen developed a very lush culture of feasting. Guests would be treated with as much pomp and food as possible.

"Feasts were a way to show off one's wealth and influence in the state," Daraškevičius said.

Seating arrangements were an art in themselves. Assigning a seat at the table to guests could underscore respect or, on the contrary, send a silent insult.

As devout Catholics, Lithuanian nobles were constrained by the Christian dictum for moderation, especially during periods of fasting. They developed some unusual dishes to overcome religious restrictions on their diets, like the almond soup.

"Because of fasting, there could be no milk on the Christmas Eve table. As a result, the aristocrats, who wanted something fat, thought of replacing regular milk with almond milk," Daraškevičius says.

In general, the Lithuanian cuisine at the time borrowed from different countries and cultures.

"I became proud of Lithuania when I realized that it was an integral part of Europe. We adopted the best traditions from Italy, France, Poland, Germany, Kiev Rus. We embraced traditions from both West and East," the researcher said.

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