My American relatives used to always make fun of the Finnish food culture. Until I moved to the States I thought Finland doesn’t even really have food culture – not at least if you compare it to France, Italy, Spain or many other countries where socializing circulates around meals. Until then Finland to me seemed spicules, tasteless and pretty boring – like makaroonilaatikko. Nothing culinary like croissants, tiramisu or crème brule. But living abroad I started to miss the things I had never really valued in the everyday menu back home. Karelia pies, Roneberg tarts, mämmi, meat pies and carrot casserole. My American mom asked me to make some of those treats for the family, but I resisted. One cannot possibly eat laskiaispulla in July or prepare the Christmas specials around the year. And I had no idea where to even begin with making mämmi. So this is where my family came up with the idea to make a cook book with 365 Finnish meals – one for every day of the year. We haven’t put our vision into action yet but if we ever do, we should state very clearly in the beginning of the book that breaking the tradition by eating our delicatess during any other time of the year than when they are placed in the Finnish calendar is very forbidden.
Honesty and Humbleness
Finnishness to me is also a lot more than just something to digest. I learned to appreciate the Finnish honesty after living abroad in countless of countries where small talk often led to empty promises of “yeah we should totally do something together someday” or “of course you are welcome to visit anytime”. Finns are not the type of people to talk to keep warm. I personally like a little chat here and there but knowing that I can sit next to my friend in a car for an hour and not say a word without it being super rude makes me feel easy and relaxed. At times I think Finnishness is maybe a bit unsocial but on other times I like the “nii joo mmm” kind of conversations where you can go forever without really saying anything. I think to Finns, communication is a lot more than just hallow words. And that Finnish-typical honesty and humbleness that the Finnishness in me has created, I want to carry out to the World with me no matter where I go.