The Finnish cuisine is a delightful balance of hearty, rustic fare and sophisticated, contemporary dishes, reflecting the country’s diverse culture and climate. This article provides a handful of key tips to embark on a Finnish gastronomic adventure.
1. Start with Rye Bread
Rye bread (‘ruisleipä’) is a national staple, enjoyed in various forms, from the dense and sour ‘reikäleipä’ to the more modern, softer loaves. Enjoy it fresh or toasted, topped with cheese, cold cuts, or pickled herring.
2. Taste Traditional Dishes
Experience quintessential Finnish comfort food with dishes like ‘Karjalanpiirakka,’ a rye pastry filled with rice porridge, or ‘Lohikeitto,’ a creamy salmon soup. Also, don’t miss out on ‘Makkara,’ the Finnish sausage usually grilled and enjoyed with mustard.
3. Enjoy Finnish Fish Dishes
Being a Nordic country, Finland offers a variety of dishes featuring freshwater fish, especially salmon and perch. ‘Kalakukko,’ a baked fish pie, and ‘Gravlax,’ a cured salmon dish, are worth sampling.
4. Experience the ‘Kahvi’ Culture
Finns consume more coffee per capita than nearly any other nation. Coffee (‘Kahvi’) is often enjoyed throughout the day, with ‘pulla,’ a sweet cardamom-flavored bun, making for a perfect pairing.
5. Sample Local Dairy Products
Finland’s dairy products are high quality, thanks to its clean, green pastures. Try ‘viili,’ a type of fermented milk, or ‘leipäjuusto,’ a squeaky cheese that is delicious served warm with cloudberry jam.
6. Savor Finnish Berries and Desserts
Finland’s forests are abundant with berries, such as bilberries, lingonberries, and cloudberries, which find their way into pies, jams, and liqueurs. For dessert, ‘Mustikkapiirakka’ (bilberry pie) and ‘Runebergintorttu,’ a rum-infused pastry, are a delight.
7. Visit Local Markets
Local markets (‘kauppatori’) are great places to sample Finnish cuisine. Helsinki’s Market Square, for instance, offers a range of local and seasonal produce, freshly cooked food, and Finnish specialties.
8. Try Finnish Beverages
Finland is renowned for its unique spirits like ‘Koskenkorva,’ a clear grain spirit, and ‘Salmiakki Koskenkorva,’ a salty licorice-flavored liqueur. Finnish craft beers and ciders are also gaining recognition.
9. Understand Finnish Dining Etiquette
Finnish people appreciate punctuality and polite table manners. If invited to a Finnish home, it’s customary to take a small gift, like flowers or chocolates, for the host.
10. Engage with Locals
Local knowledge is invaluable for discovering the best places to eat. Engage with locals to uncover hidden culinary gems off the beaten path.
Finnish cuisine offers a vibrant combination of hearty, traditional foods and contemporary culinary innovations. With its affinity for rye bread, coffee, unique dairy products, and an array of fish and meat dishes, Finland promises a fascinating gastronomic journey. Enjoy your foodie adventure in Finland!