Tag Archives: food

How I see Finland

In my opinion, Finland is one of the best places to stay, when it comes to conditions, the standard and the quality of life. Especially elderly people and children are treated really well in this country. In general people are extremely honest and encourage other people to have the same courtesy. The stereotype about Finnish honesty is purposeful and truthful, and Finns like to highlight it. For example if you lose your wallet here, you have way better chances at getting it back, than in many other countries. I personally have had an experience of forgetting my bank card in the ATM machine and then getting a call from a stranger that found it to come and collect it. You can’t not respect that. As it was said in another blog post, I agree that ”honesty is the foundation of a safe and functional society.” (Sahamies, J. 2019 blogi)

(https://adage.com/creativity/work//38028)

In addition to all the good benefits and support you can get from the government, Finland also provides exceptional educational opportunities. Here you can basically educate yourself to become whatever you want as long as you have the motivation and the dedication to do it, the doors are open. People from all over the world come here for the education opportunities and in some cases may even get a job and stay here. Most of the exchange students I have spoken to, have said that they love it here. The only negative aspects were the weather conditions and sometimes the food.

(https://www.tuni.fi)

Why the food? Well, Finland isn’t really known as the most food oriented country even though there are some amazing Finnish dishes, which will make your mouth water. Still, because Finnish people tend to settle for less, they don’t make a big deal out of a meal. Salt & pepper is all you need for seasoning.

Mostly the food is considered to be healthy and versatile. To people like myself who are picky with the food, it may seem a bit boring at times. People from countries where food is held in a high standard, would probably also want to spice it up a bit, since they are more used to the strong rich flavors.

(https://finnishcrashcourse.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/food-culture-in-finland-tradition-habits-and-particular-dishes-part-1/) Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.

Finnish pastries

A topic that isn’t much talked about is Finnish pastries. Finland has got some really unique sweet recipes that you can’t find almost anywhere else in the world. In this blog post I’ll introduce you to a few of them.

Tippaleipä
Tippaleipä is a pretty odd looking pastry that you traditionally eat on May Day (1st of May). Tippaleipä is a funnel cake and the name means “drip bread” which refers to how it is made. You make them by dripping cake batter into hot oil and serve them covered with powdered sugar and sima, which is a lemon-flavored mead. Tippaleipä can be very messy to eat so be careful while snacking on it! 🙂

Lusikkaleipä
Literally translated as spoon cookie, lusikkaleipä is a fine textured buttery cookie that is filled with jam or marmalade and covered in sugar. The name of the cookie comes from how it is shaped; you press the batter into a deep oval teaspoon and form the who halves of the cookie.

Lätty and pannukakku
Lätty (also known as lettu or ohukainen in Finnish)  is something you can find in almost every country but every part of the world makes them differently. Lätty is a thin pancake that is very popular in Finland. You could translate it as a crepe, but classic crepes are much thinner and made of a less buttery batter than hot the Finnish version is made. Pannukakku translates directly as pancake, but the way Finnish people make pannukakku differs from many countries; in Finland you fill the whole oven tray in batter and cook it in the oven.

Runebergintorttu
The Runeberg torte is a Finnish pastry that is flavored with almonds and topped with raspberry jam and icing. The pastry is named after the Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804-1877) and are sold in Finnish grocery stores from the beginning of January to Runeberg’s birthday on February 5th when they’re traditionally also served in schools across the country. It is said that it was Runeberg’s wife Fredrika who created this desert and the very first version of it was made out of scraps she could find in her kitchen.

Korvapuusti
Korvapuusti is Finland’s version of cinnamon rolls and the shape of this pastry is unique to our country. Where some countries like to drizzle icing on top of their cinnamon buns, here we like to top them with pearl sugar. Fun fact: the 4th of October is the national korvapuusti day in Finland.

Joulutorttu
Joulutorttu, meaning Christmas tart, is a traditional Christmas food in Finland. The jam in the middle of the pastry is usually plum jam. The traditional shape resembles a star or a windmill but you can get really creative when making them.

There are many other varieties of traditional Finnish pastries (hint: google pulla and mokkapala for example,  and don’t blame me if you start drooling). Why aren’t these sweets known around the world? I feel like Finnish people don’t really like to brag and and since we live so secluded from the rest of the world these pastries haven’t really been recognized in many countries. Promoting Finnish pastries is something we should definitely try to do more, go and tell the world about the greatness of pulla and korvapuusti!

I hope this post inspired you to do some more research about Finnish food or maybe try baking something yourself! All images have been found from Google’s image search. Didn’t bake any of them myself, sorry. 🙁

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.

 

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.

 

Finnish holidays

Each country has its own holidays, as well as Finland. Around the year Finns spend a variety of celebrations, some are known around the world, but some are Finns own story. Like everyone probably knows, Finland is located in north where the sun does not rise at all during the winter. Umh, and the winter lasts almost nine months in Finland… or at least the dark and cold time.

Fortunately, Finns have these holidays that cheer up in the middle of darkness and coldness. Okay, luckily we have also a three-month summer when the sun does not drop even at the night.

New Year’s Day

The very first holiday at the year is New Year’s Day. (First of January) The day, when everyone is tired of yesterdays celebrating and fireworks shooting. It’s also a day, when New Year’s promises keeping starts. Someones promises to save money, someones promises to start a diet. And very traditional Finn New Year’s promise is ”tipaton tammikuu”, it means that no alcohol in January. Good start for a good year!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new year promise

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day celebrating hasn’t been very common in Finland expect for the last few years. But Valentine’s Day has become more commercial day, because Valentine’s Day gifts are bought every year more and more. In Finland, a day is usually celebrated with our friends or partner at the movies or eating. Sending Valentine’s Day cards is also common.

 

 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle valentine's day

 

 

EasterKuvahaun tulos haulle virpojatEaster is a quite big holiday in Finland in spring. Finns are not very religious nation, so celebrating is more for children. Traditional Finn Easter manner is wish another person health and happiness on Palm Sunday by tapping them lightly with a willow twig and chanting a rhyme. It’s usually done by children in quest for candy. A willow twig is decorated with colorful feathers and children are also dressed like witches or Easter bunnies. Traditional Easter food is lamb and Finnish Easter pudding, which is made of rye.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pääsiäisruoka

 

First of MayKuvahaun tulos haulle vappuFirst of May is common westerner holiday and in Finland carnerval for a workpeople and students. Usually celebrating happens in the cities downtown and everyone is wearing their graduation caps. Traditional drinks are mead, sparkling wines and shampagne. Funnel cake is also very own Finnish thing. Families with children are usually celebrating a day in carnivals and circus where balloons is a big thing.Kuvahaun tulos haulle vappu toriKuvahaun tulos haulle tippaleipä

Midsummer

Midsummer means fest of light and midsummer. Then sun doesn’t drop at all in Northern Finland. Midsummer sauna with bath whisk made of birch, bonfire and midsummer dances are very traditional manner in Finland. Almost everybody is celebrating it at their own summerhouse with family or friends. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is always been part of Finns celebrating. Midsummer fest have also very old magic tricks and belifies. If you roll on grainfield at the morning dew, you can see in your dreams your future husband. It is also believed that drinking alcohol drives out evil spirits, and the harvest will be the better the more you drink.Kuvahaun tulos haulle juhannusHalloween

Celebrating Halloween hasn’t been very common in Finland, expect the last few years. It’s been more like remembering departed people. The most important symbol is grinning pumpkin. Departed people, ghosts, vampires, witches and black cats are also favourite symbols. Children usually wear ghost or other costumes and go door to door asking trick or treat.Kuvahaun tulos haulle karkki vai kepponenIndependent Day

Finland’s Independence Day is very important and big day for all Finns. Finland celebrates it’s 100th anniversary on 2017. Independence is still important to the Finns and touches us because we lost more than 60 000 soldiers, most of them was young men aged 20.Kuvahaun tulos haulle itsenäisyyspäiväTraditional Independence Day program include watching movie ”Tuntematon Sotilas” (”The Unknown Soldier”), that tells of the Finnish war against the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945.

In the evening, the Presidential Independence Day reception is shown on the TV. There is invited almost 2000 guest in every year. Usually people admire the guests gowns and always vote for the ”Castle Balls” queen and king.Kuvahaun tulos haulle linnan juhlat

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve and Day and Boxing Day

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulu

Christmas is the most biggest holiday in Finland. There is so much tradition manners and foods. On Christmas Eve usually families gather together and eat Christmas food. Christmas table’s king is absolutely ham! Also rosolli salad, rutabaga casserole, potato casserole, carrot casserole and salmon is very common. In the evening Santa Claus from Korvatunturi will visit and share gifts for children. Christmas carols, cards, costumes, get together and visiting in cemetery are traditional manners in Finland.Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen joulupöytä

 

 

New Years Eve

Kuvahaun tulos haulle fireworks helsinki

New Year’s Eve is a last day in a whole year. A day when Finns celebrate spended year. Shooting fireworks and pouring of tin in to water is traditional manner in Finland. Melted tin sets fast and the shape of tin tells you a lot of what is coming on next year. Maybe it’s a coin which means a lot of money or maybe it’s a heart and you will find a love. No one knows…

Kuvahaun tulos haulle tinan valaminen

 

My kind of Finnishness

I started this assignment by thinking what I understand by the term “Finnishness”. To me, it’s all the things that make me feel like myself the most. Places where I can be me, food I love to eat and hobbies I absolutely love to fill my spare time with. Things that give me a deep sense of satisfaction and peace of mind.

Forests

Nature in general is still very near to Finnish people, even in the cities. Lakes, forests, fells in Lapland… They are all places people seem to gravitate to. I grew up in the eastern part of Finland where there is an abundance of woods. Even today forests are places where I go to relax and quieten, to ground myself in a sense. I especially like to hike in the woods with my dogs.

Scenery from a forest, flavored with my doggie. (Image copyright is to me, do not copy.)

Karjalanpaisti

Nothing says Finnish food to me more than Karjalanpaisti (Karelian stew or hot pot in English). The stew has its roots in Karelia, the eastern region of Finland. It contains meat, usually pork, beef or lamb. I personally love the combination of lamb and beef. Root vegetables such as carrots and onions are added to the meat. The stew is seasoned with whole black peppercorns, allspice berries or bay leaf.

The meat is first seared and then placed in a big pot with the other ingredients. The pot is then filled with water and placed in an oven to braise. The cooking takes several hours in a low heat. The best oven for cooking is the traditional masonry oven, but not many have those these days.

I absolutely love this stew, it’s so yummy and perfect in its simplicity. I don’t have an image to add to this post, since the stew is always eaten before I manage to take pictures of it. It’s that good.

Crafts

Finland has quite long traditions in crafts. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to learn the really old traditions, I still love different kinds of crafts. Especially knitting and crocheting are some of my favorite ways to relax and concentrate. My mother and both my grandmothers all knit and crochet, so it makes me feel close to them as well.

At the moment I am participating in an event called Kalevala CAL. CAL is an abbreviation of the words “Crochet Along”. Basically a CAL is a project where a lot of people are taking part and crocheting the same pattern. This particular CAL is a lovely tribute to Finnish culture and traditions, because it draws inspiration from the Finnish national epic Kalevala. The end product will be a large blanket where each square is inspired by different stories and characters from Kalevala. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate Finnishness than this crafts project.

If you’re interested in the Kalevala CAL project, you can find more information here: http://www.arteeni.fi/kalevalacal-en

Some of my crocheting from Kalevala CAL.
(Image copyright is to me, do not copy.)

All in all, Finnishness to me is not one or two separate things. Rather it’s a variety of things which define me as a Finnish individual. In addition to these three subjects, there are a bunch more I find dear to me.

 

My Finnishness

My exchange has already started when I am writing this so my perspective to Finnishness has already changed little bit. I want to write you about things what I seem to be missing from Finland.

Lakes and midsummer

Finland is known from its lakes “Land of a Thousand lakes”. Before my exchange I had no idea that I could be missing lakes, but seems that I am really used to swimming. Lakes also seems to be meeting place with friends, a place to gather around and relax.

This was my first summer away from Finland and I missed Finnish mid-summer party, which usually includes lake, swimming, tasty food and bonfire. I was seriously considering flying back to Finland just for midsummer, but finally I did not. I guess next year I must celebrate twice as much.

Food

In Finland I was used to eating rye bread and porridge, but they seem to be really hard to find here or they are really expensive. Of course idea is to experience local culture and food, but my eating habits seems to be hard to change.

Before my exchange I did realise that these are things which I would miss from finland, but that seems to be the case here. I guess these things are “Finnishness” to me.

Here is picture of finnish midsummer bonfire called “kokko”

My home in Finland – where my story began

For me being a Finn is a weird concept. I can’t seem to relate to most of the stereotypes of Finnish people on a personal level. I am social and outgoing, I don’t mind people entering my personal space (if I know them), I am very affectionate and I am loud and giggly and I actually don’t like sauna that much. The stereotype of grumpy Finns who prefer to grunt in response and avoid interaction with other people whenever possible doesn’t seem to suit me. But I am still a Finn and it means other things to me as it is different for everyone. I guess belonging somewhere comes from yourself and what you believe it means and requires. In a way I am a Finn because I was born in Finland and lived here most of my life. But my times abroad and meeting international people have changed me as well as a person. So it’s not just about where you come from, it’s about who you are and want to be.

But enough of that philosophical blabbering, let’s get down to the things that I think make me a Finn.

Nature

Whether it is camping outside and gazing at the stars while roasting marshmallows or sausages on a campfire or skinny dipping in a lake and running back into a sauna on a clear summer night, nature has always been close to me. I grew up in the country side so I got to experience it on a whole new level. There’s nothing more calming to going into the forest on a clear snow day and just listening to the sound of nature while admiring the view that unfolds before you. Snowy landscape is one of my favorite sights to see and it holds the candle to the other wonders of the world. This part of Finnishness also holds the sports we get to do during winter time. Ice skating, skiing, sliding down the hill on a sleigh, all of these and many more would not be possible in many other places.

Food and drinks

There are quite many foods that you wouldn’t come across elsewhere or there might be something similar. I know these names won’t mean much to you but for example karjalanpiirakka, piparkakku, karjalanpaisti, mämmi (which is disgusting by the way) or salted liquorices. We Finns do love our salted liquorice, we put it into almost anything; ice cream, chocolate, alcohol etc. Salmari, the alcoholic drink, is good by the way. Which brings us to the drinking culture in Finland. In a lot of countries drinking is a social thing where as in Finland we can also just do “kalsarikännit” which basically means getting drunk in our underwear alone at home. That’s another thing we do, we get drunk. Sometimes might enjoy a glass or two when having food or going to sauna but if we go out we go all out. During the weekend around 4 am you can find Finns queuing up to a pizzeria or some snack kiosk with greasy food to get something to fill their alcohol infused bellies. And that’s when we actually talk to strangers even if they wouldn’t want you to.

 

Language

I can’t even count how many times I’ve enjoyed listening to foreigners trying to speak Finnish. I really appreciate the effort though and I congratulate you for trying since it’s definitely not the easiest language. Even Finns have trouble understanding each other depending which part of the country they come from. To many Finnish just sounds like a really long word since we do not tend to breathe in between while talking. We take a deep breath and let it all out in one go. No wonder we don’t talk much. If we don’t have anything to say why say anything at all. Words hold quite a lot of power and verbal agreements can be almost as binding as written ones. If you make a promise you are excepted to hold true to your words. But Finnish language can be quite funny once you learn it (if you learn it).

So I would proudly say, yes I am a Finn. But I am also me and that is so much more.

About Finnishness

Perseverance

I would say one Finnish thing is perseverance. Sometimes it is even funny when people just can’t stop doing something even if it’s little bit stupid to move on. Finnish people do what he or she has promised to do. And if there is obstacles Finnish don’t care, they keep going with this “suomalainen sisu”. There are examples when people have built their houses in very challenging places because “I want my home there even it is the last thing I am going to do in my life”. Finnish people are known for their perseverance and we have had for example success in sport because of it.

I think one of the reasons for perseverance is that we have had so cold and rugged nature that we just had to find our way to survive in this big country. And in war against huge Russia (or Soviet Union) we really need our perseverance and that’s why we are independent.

We have statue for Finnish perseverance and it is built on top of mountain in Lapland.  And did you know we have even pastille named “Sisu”?

 

 

First sunny days

One thing that Finnish love is the first days in Spring when sun comes up. The whole long (and maybe dark if there isn’t snow) winter we just wait for the sun. Of course, it is lovely to have four different seasons but warm summer is something we really love. When there is first sunny days people become little bit crazy. Everyone get their grills out from the storage and suddenly there is plenty of barbequing stuff at all food markets. People find their summer clothes and bar terraces are full of half-naked Finnish enjoying beer. And summer flowers need to bring to the garden… There is always risk that summer ends short so we must take all the pleasure out of it right away!

 

Finnish food

Because Finland is very large country we have different food traditions in different parts of Finland. But there are some Finnish specialties that everyone should have tasted, at least one time in life.

Finnish rye bread is one thing Finnish people love. It is healthy, keeps hunger away and tastes good. My favorite thing is Karelian pie (“karjalanpiirakka”) which comes near East border. Karelian pie is special thin rye bread filled with rice porridge and typically you put some egg-butter on top of it. During Easter, we eat “Mämmi” which is black rye porridge. Typically, we eat it with cream but also vanilla sauce taste very good with it. And some people put also sugar on top of it. And from my city, Tampere, comes black sausage (“mustamakkara”). Typically, you eat it with lingonberry and cold milk.

   

Music education system

In Finland, we have exceptional music education system. We have this music school system where you can study music regardless of whether you are children or adult. Music schools can be connected with primary school or they could private schools that everybody can apply. Almost every city or at least municipality community there is music school and everybody has opportunity to play music if they want. And you can start playing even if you are adult. There is plenty of different kind of orchestras and choirs which you can participate, get new friends and meet old ones.

During the summer, there is so many different music camps and events that you can spend the whole summer vacation with music.

Reasons to fall for Finland; finnishness through my eyes.

What comes to your mind when you think about Finland. Maybe cold weather, darkness or people who want their own space? Finland and finnishness is so much more and next I am going to tell you five reasons that can also make you fall for Finland.

1) Finnish nature and lakes

The nature here in Finland is gorgeous. Finland is one of the countries that has the most forests. Almost 72% of finlands surface area is forests. One year consists of four seasons and the way the finnish nature looks, changes with them. So you can live in a big city and still there is so much beautiful nature near you.  You can also go to some of Finland’s national parks to enjoy the nature. Finland is also called “the country of thousands of lakes”, because of our about 187 888 lakes. I cannot choose a season when Finland’s nature would be the most beautiful, because the way they look during each season is so different and every season has its strong sides. Here is some pictures of finnish nature in each season. Can you pick your favourite one? 😉

2) Cottage life

We finnish people love love love to go and spend time to our own or rented cottages during all year but especially in the summer time. We usually go there during our holidays to relax and spend time with our family and friends. I personally think that there is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than to spend days and even weeks in our summer cottage eating, playing, just totally hanging out and enjoying the company of my loved ones. It is really important sometimes to just be and not worry about life. 🙂

3) Traditional foods

Well, what can I say.  I love food and we finnish people love food. Some of our traditional foods are for example Karelian hot pot, finnish fish or pork pasty, rye bread and karelian pasty with spread made of butter and hard boiled eggs. (the last one is my all time favourite) We have some traditional foods in some citys which are also worth of trying out. Just don`t let look of some of our traditional foods to scare you off. Finland is also known about it`s delicious Fazer chocolate and salty liquorice. The second one is a sweet, which to our surprise, foreign people don`t usually like.

4) Sauna

Do I even have to explain this? I think this is the most finnish thing there can be. Most Finnish people are crazy about sauna. But if there are some readers, who for some reason have not heard from sauna, it is basically a room which is heated very warm, by throwing water to hot stones that are in the sauna stove. Sauna is usually connected to cottage life (where the majority of people has a sauna) BUT many people also has a sauna in their everyday home. I just love the feeling you get when you go to the sauna and relax on the benches. And it will get even better if you have maybe a lake, or some watery area, near the sauna where you can go and dip yourself straight from sauna. And then get back in to warm up again.

5)People

I know that some of us finns are quite grumpy and we need our own space, but we still are lovely people. You just have to get to know us. I usually wonder that why foreign people say we are unfriendly and shy, because I don’t think that is the case at all. Of course every culture is different and if you come from one where people are almost “oversocial”, it can take a while to understand why we are who we are. But what I love the most about finnish people is that they are helpful, trustworthy and emphatic people. We are also very loyal to the people we love. When you get to know us, you really can see that.