Taste the Culture of Finland

Time to taste a little bit of Finland!! Since I’ll only be one day in the beautiful city Helsinki, I have to choose what I really really want to try.
In the western part of Finland, fish and meat play a big role in daily meals, while various vegetables and mushrooms (i love mushrooms 🙂 ) have been traditionally included in dishes in the eastern part of Finland. The most popular meats in Finland are pork (same as Estonia!), beef and chicken. 

  • Lihapullat- Finnish meatballs, often with gravy sauce

  • Palvikinkku and Palviliha- smoked ham or beef

Since Finland has many lakes (nearly 200 000 of them!), Finns have many opportunities to go fishing. Salmon is a popular choice and dishes that include salmon are:

  • Kylmäsavustettu lohi (cold smoked salmon). The salmon is cut into very thin pieces and served with olive oil, shallots or onions, asparagus, fresh herbs and different kinds of salads

  • Graavilohi. It is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar and dill. It is usually served on bread.

Finns prepare fish in all kinds of ways: frying, boiling, drying, salting… A common dish among the Swedish-speaking population is smoked herring (“Savusilli” in Finish). I actually see these a lot in supermarkets in Lithuania. They also enjoy pickled herring, which is a common appetizer and usually served around Midsummer accompanied by uusiperuna– small potatoes. Whitefish, vendace roe and crayfish are Finnish delicacies. Whitefish and vendace ore are usually served on blinis or toast. Crayfish is more popular among the Swedish-speaking population and is usually eaten at parties. 


Other typical Finnish dishes:

  • Kaalikaaryleet– cabbage rolls

  • Hernekeitto– pea soup, usually served on Thursday along with a dessert pancake
  • Viili– a type of yogurt (I’m definitely buying this! I love yogurts!)

Breads are a staple of the Finnish diet, especially rye bread. Breads are eaten with every meal. There are many types of Finnish bread:Rye: Limppu (it’s actually common in upper peninsula of Michigan), Reikäleipä, Ruispala (I have actually eaten this before and it is delicious), Jälkiuunileipä, Näkkileipä (rye breads dried into crisps). 


Wheat (this flour is mainly used for baking pastry, scones): Pulla (sweet Finnish sweet roll), Karelian Pie (small bread made of potato dough originally from Karelia in Eastern Finland), Vesirinkeli– they resemble bagels.

Karelian Pie

Korppu (rusk)Rieska– barley based flat breads, which are similar to crispbreads. They are often served warm and buttered and consumed with milk. The most common kinds of rieska are: Perunarieska (potatoe rieska), Ohrarieska (barley rieska), Ruisrieska (rye rieska), Maitorieska (mil rieska).Crisp cracker bread is actually very popular (Finn Crisps). I found them at the supermarket recently and loved them so much! 

Ok..after you have had all of these breads, you need to wash it down with something. What should you choose in Finland:

  • Water
  • Milk- most Finns drink a lot of milk so it’s not uncommon to have it with your meal
  • Buttermilk
  • Coffee- it is often drunk several times a day. And Finns drink more coffee than anyone else in the whole world! Great place for coffee lovers. There are actually a lot of people who drink 8 or more cups of coffee a day…
  • Kisseli- same as in Estonia!! It’s served a s a dessert or a drink.

How about during a party or a club? Try:

  • Sima (mead). It is usually accompanied by munkki (a donut), tippaleipa (fennel cake)or rosetti (a rosette). Ingredients include lemon, active dry yeast, sugar and raisins.
  • Sahiti– a traditional beer made from a variety of grains including barley, rye, wheat and oats. It has a distinct banana flavor.
  • Kilju (sugar wine)- made from sugar, yeast and water. It is most found at student parties and in the Finnish punk subculture. 
  • Koskenkorova Viina– most common clear spirit drink. It;s just like vodka.
  • Jaloviina– liquor made of brandy neutral grain spirit and water. Sometimes sugar is added to soften the taste.
  • Finlandia Vodka– I have actually seen these at stores! I think I might have tasted some of it. It;s available in pure form or it could be flavored. I tasted the raspberry kind and it was nice 😀
  • If anyone is interested in something stronger, Marskin ryyppy, is for you. It is very strong and is served as a shot. It is important that the glass is poured as full as possible and be emptied without spilling. It must be served ice cold.
  • Mulled wine– usually red wine mixed with spices and served hot or warm. It is traditional during winter.

I have a major sweet tooth, so the first thing I would do is go to a bakery and buy a  Runebergintorttu!! It’s a pastry with almonds, rum or arrack and usually weighs about 100 grams. They are eaten only in Finland and are unfortunately generally available from the beginning of January to February 5…  Well, I guess I won’t be able to taste this so I’ll have to come back in the winter. But what I’m excited about, is that the company “Fazer” is one of the largest corporations in the Finnish food industry. They produce really good chocolate! The Karl Fazer Cafe is still the same adress in Helsinki- Kluuvikatu 3. I am so going!!!


If any of you really love pizza, head to Kotipizza. It’s a Finnish pizza chain, that won the 2008 America’s Plate International pizza contest.

Finland has such interesting dishes to choose from, I’ll have trouble choosing! 


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