FINNISH CUISINE

Finnish food respects traditions. There are few traditional dish and they are rarely eaten on a daily basis. These are often regional, associated with older generations or confined to a specific holiday. Example: Mämmi (It’s traditional sweet dish, which especially eaten at Easter. Its mainly made from water, rye malt and rye flour.)

Most popular meats in Finland are pork, beef, chicken and duck. In Lapland, the greatest delicacy is the sautéed reindeer.

Arctic wild berries are distinctively featured in Finnish cuisine with their strong and unique flavor and high nutrient content. In summer you can eat fresh berries and dried or froze at other times of year. Its very common to go picking berries straight from the forests. You can use berries in pies, smoothies or eat as such. Also various species of mushrooms grow in abundance in Finnish forests. Chanterelles and ceps pop up after Midsummer and are popular in the whole country. Mushrooms are used in sauces, soups, stews, pie fillings or simply fried in a pan. In winter they are preserved by pickling or drying.

Finnish bread is mostly dark and fiber-rich rye bread. Breads are made from grains like barley, oat, rye and wheat or by mixing different grits and flours. One popular and oldest traditional pasties is Karelian pasties. Most familiar and common version is has a thin rye crust with a filling of rice porridge. Karelian pasties are served with spread made of butter and hard boiled eggs. Here’s a video where they show, how to make Karelian pasties.

Traditional Finnish breakfast includes porridge. Rolled oats, rye or multi-grain porridge are most common to see in Finnish breakfast table. Water and coffee are the most common drinks in Finland, but during meals milk and sour milk are also popular. Finnish people drink coffee often several times a day and served everywhere and tea is available in most homes.

 

Ice fishing is fun!

Ice fishing is one of the Finnish favorite hobbies at the winter time.

In Finland the winter time is long and there’s a lot of lakes and a long cost where the ice fishing can be done.

Basic equipments needed for ice fishing are ice fishing rod with a jig, ice drill, a box where to sit and save the catched fishes.

Ice fishing can be done alone or with others. You will need to dress warmly because often there’s cold and windy on the ice. It is much more comfortable, if it is not feeling cold. Spring times when the sun is shining it’s much more warmer then.

Initially, a hole is made in the ice with a ice drill where the fishing takes a place. Fishing does not require permission, but is a right for everybody. In addition to being fun, it is also useful. Almost all of the fishes are eatable.

Fish can be used to make different dishes. My favorite is creamy fish soup. Warm soup tastes good after outdoor activities.

 

6 things about Finland that first come up to my mind

Almost every time when I return back to Finland from a trip abroad, I realise how well things are in Finland. When I start thinking about what Finnishness means to me, these 6 things come up to my mind immediately.

  1. Equal & free education for everyone

I feel privileged and grateful that I have had the possibility to get educated for free because that is not the case in most parts of the world. Education makes the whole country function better overall as people know what they should aim at in order to get along. It helps people to try to achieve the lives they want to live.

  1. Free health care

Health care being free to every Finn is a big thing as well since insurances are quite expensive and every human needs to see a doctor once in a while. I believe free health care as well as education keep the country’s people all in all in better condition.

  1. Safety

Every time returning back to Finland from abroad, I feel so safe after seeing what it’s like in other countries with totally different cultures and behavioral patterns. Of course, there are places and countries which are even safer than Finland but many times after travelling I feel safer in Finland. Although I know this is also partially because I have lived here my whole life and I know how people behave in this country.

  1. Beautiful nature

Lapland is my favorite part of Finland because of the beautiful landscapes and peaceful nature. The clean outdoor air is something I am very grateful of as well. Go and explore it yourself! 🙂

  1. Rye bread & homemade food

During my upcoming exchange I believe I will miss ryebread and homemade food mostly. They have a place in my everyday life in Finland and which I enjoy eating at home especially. In this case I could say that they are some kind of symbol of safety and home for me, so this is why I believe I will miss them during my exchange.

  1. Own space

Finns love their own space, for example in public transport they usually prefer sitting all alone. I also enjoy having a few moments for myself during the day as it helps me to relax and calm down after a busy day at work or school.

 

Ice swimming

When you start a new hobby like ice swimming, your probably have heared from your friends how great it is or you read about it. Ice swiming is good for your health and  and peopele who like it tell that it eases pains in you body.  They also say thatit is better to start this hobby in autum so you get used to gold watter before it`s colder.  This time of the year there is  150.000 ice swimmwers.Especially young people are interested in ice swiming.

 

 

Ice swimming is good to star  early in autum, then it is easier to go gold watter.  Usually  you go to warm Sauna before swimming. It is important go to Sauna also after swiming. You must wear a hat on your head when is freezing and wera sneakers or slippers on you feet.

There is also chance to do dipping yourself in cold public indoor swimmingpool which is almost the same thing as ice swimming but without the ice =). Using this cold pool is more possible to people who don´thave chance to go to ice swimming. But it`s more overall experience to go in middle of nature. This pleasant hobby is possible becauseof the Finnish nature and winter season.

 

 

 

 

Esa Pulliainen and his “Finnish” guitar sound

I’ve been playing guitar my whole life and our home was full of great music. I recall the time when I heard Topi Sorsakoski & Agent’s song “Kaksi Kitaraa” coming from our stereo system and it hit me like ten thousand volts. I thought to myself: “What’s this? What’s that guitar sound? Why does it sound so beautiful? Why it sounds so melancholy and sad?” That was time before internet so I looked the CD cover and saw that it was and old folk song but Agent’s guitarist Esa Pullianen had re-arranged it. I wrote this blog about Esa Pullainen’s guitar sound because in my opinion it defines what’s “Finnishness”. And of course the band “Agents” is topical subject today and they released magnificent record with Ville Valo two weeks ago.

So, why Esa Pulliainen’s guitar sound defines what “Finnishness” is to me? Firstly, his guitar (Fender Stratocaster) is blue and it has Finland’s flag-sticker on it. Secondly, you just have to listen how his guitar weeps, moans and groans so insolently. Mr. Pulliainen uses his Fender Stratocaster as a brush and paints beautiful landscapes with his signature sound. And while he lets his guitar sing, you can imagine all the beautiful things about Finland: forests, lakes, fields, mountains, winter, summer, spring, autumn, etc. But it also sounds sad and melancholy at the same time. And that’s why when I think about “Finnishness” I think about Esa Pulliainen and his guitar sound. It’s simultaneously so beautiful and so melancholy. Just like Finns.

Funny fact: I have many friends who aren’t Finnish and when they ask me how to describe Finland to them, I play some songs by Topi Sorsakoski & Agents to them. Every time I get the same response: “What’s this? This sounds so beautiful and so melancholy at the same time. Wow!”

Esa Pulliainen and his famous Fender Stratocaster

Finns are rather sporty

As a person from small town abroad, I enjoy living in Tampere very much in terms of sport life, because I like to do sports, especially winter ones as skiing and hockey and I like to do running to keep myself in shape. And I can easily do it here.

There are a lot of small and big parks with enough walking paths to do running, jogging or nordic walking. Also there are ice rinks almost in every yard. For skiing there are great places that are taken good care of, like Kauppi area as an example. It is pure joy to ski there. In my hometown, there is only one ski path in the forest and one ice rink, which are not always handled well enough 🙁 When my father visits me here, he always goes skiing.

When I go out running, skiing or any other activity I always see people training. And it’s great to see that any regular Finn can and does live sport lifestyle to some extend.
Once, we were waiting for our ship in Turku at 5 am and saw a woman running.
By the way, it was winter and quite snowy and cold day, by Finnish scale of course.
But it seems nothing can stop her from her morning running session.

Additionally, there are a lot of very young kids doing sports as well. They ski with their parents, skating like they were already born with ability to skate. When I go mountain skiing, I see also some very young kids going down by the slopes. They are so young, it makes me wonder – did they even learn to talk. But skiing seems easy for them, even if they are couple of years old only. It would be a shame if a few year old  boy or girl would overtake me on the slope 🙂  But I feel that it can easily happen, because Finns are good at sport and they are sporty from the very childhood. And it’s great.

No appropriate picture, so look at this one 😉

Finland – The home of solitude and metal music

Finland is known to be the home of metal music with the most metal bands per capita (630). Though it’s a fact that not all finnish people like the heavy and often depressing music, Finland is still widely known for bands like Lordi, HIM, Nightwish and Ensiferum for example.

So while we Finns let our hair grow and spend our time without protecting our hearing in the infamous moshpits we are also very trustworthy, generous and thoughtful when it comes to other people. The various themes many metal bands sing about (like solitude, being alone, loneliness, etc.) are also the facts of life in someway for almost everybody in this cold and barren country.

Many Finns are very good at socializing but it often comes with a toll – we need lots of time for ourselves. For example the common bus to work is a wonderful time to be alone without noticing any of the other passengers.

Other noticiable themes considering Finns are that we are also very humble, melancholic and we don’t like to be the center of attention. These are also common themes in the Finnish metal music.

So when you next time arrive to Finland don’t be afraid to stop by and start a little chitchat – you’d be surprised how much we suck at it.

Foul language

A part of being  a Finn is to swear. While it is at times considered to be immature or impolite, using swear words can help the user bring out the nature of their opinion. Finns do not typically (at least to my experience) use intonation in their speech which sometimes makes the interpretation slightly inconvenient. Used at the right time cuss can strengthen ones point, but it’s not a part of proper business etiquette, especially in customer-oriented situations.

Arguably perkele is the best known Finnish swear word. It may originate from the name of the god of thunder Perkwunos, or Ukko in Finnish pagan pantheon. It was used originally as a cry for the god of strength (Wikipedia). Usually perkele is used in situations which require strength, both physical and mental. The word even sounds strong, although it may be a learned thing or because it’s often said with strong emphasis. Perkele. 

As shown in the video above, perkele and other curse words are often used to emphasize aggression as well.

 

 

 

Vappu and Juhannus- could there be more finnish way to celebrate?

Finnish people are said to be quite calm and quiet people. But they do know how to party, at least a couple of times during the year! Here´s a couple of examples:

1st of May. That´s when the spring and “early summer” officially starts, no matter what. The actual weather doesn´t mean a thing when thousands and thousands of people wander to parks to have a picnic after previous night´s massive celebration.

(1st of May celebrants in the center of Helsinki)

But what do people celebrate every year? First of all it marks the end of long winter. After months of darkness and cold it is time to come out from caves and celebrate the light and coming summer! And really, the actual weather on 1st of May doesn’t mean a thing at all. It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or it´s raining wet snow, people still go out to have a picnic or at least on marches that are held on that day across Finland.

1st of May, Vappu in finnish, is the celebration of the workers and that´s why the name ”Labour day”. can be used also. It has been a political celebration, specially in 1970s among the left wing party. Political climate has changed during the decades and now the most visible group of celebrants are the students with their colourful overalls and white student caps. You can see those caps on other people´s heads also, it is traditional and annual way of celebrate your high school graduation.

(Student celebrants on 1 st of May)

Vappu means a lot to finnish people. It gives us ”the permission” to start to enjoy the spring and summer, go out and hug the world once again. It´s not just an event, it´s a happening that you have explore! 😊

 

If Vappu is the celebration of the end of coldness and darkness, the summer officially starts with Midsummer Festival- Juhannus! It is held during 21st-23th of June every year. While people march on streets and gather together into parks on Labour Day, Juhannus is the time when most of us go to cottages with family and friends, have a sauna, swim in the lake and grill sausages. But traditionally there´s a lot of bonfires that are lit across the country to gather people to be together for a moment and enjoy the Midsummer´s nightless night. One of bonfire´s original reasons was to keep bad spirits away from the area, today it is assumingly more an old tradition that people want to keep alive.

(Bonfires are traditional way to celebrate the Midsummer´s Eve)

(Summer cottage is probably the most popular place to spend Midsummer´s celebration)

Nowadays many big music festivals are being held during 21st-23th of June and those parties are really popular specially among younger people. Finland is a country of thousands of lakes, but sea is very important to many people also. Traditions vary a bit depending what part of Finland you are while Midsummer, but the most important tradition is to gather family and friends together and celebrate the relatively short summer, light and warmth that is happening. Even if it´s not that warm.. It might be the summer weather with 25 degrees and sunshine or 5 degrees with cold rain during Juhannus, but once again, that´s not the point. Finnish people love traditions and if it said that summer officially starts on 21st of June, then it starts, no matter what. 😊

 

 

 

 

Finnishness – Finnish small talk

Finnish small talk is something that practically doesn’t exist. Not in the way that it exists globally everywhere else in the world. In Finland there’s a saying “vaikeneminen on kultaa,” which roughly translates to “silence is gold.”

If a Finnish person feels like they have nothing interesting to say, they stay quiet. A question like “How are you doing?” usually is taken very literally in Finland.

 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish small talk

 

My favourite examples of Finns trying to avoid small talk is the classic bus stop-situation. It’s like we almost have an internal ruler inside us since every distance between strangers is almost precisely the same. Just close enough to be in the bus stop-area but as far away from disturbing someone elses personal space/letting someone else disturb theirs.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle bus stop finland

Still, even though Finns are quite limited in their day to day-conversations to other people, you can guarantee you will always get a quite honest answer to everything, but in a way that doesn’t necessarily offend you.  Finns have a good backbone and even though we don’t always have time for small talk, you’ll know when a Finn likes you.