In its most primitive form the Finnish cuisine, which you should definitely try while visiting Helsinki, is just as far from European standards, as the Finnish language.
While enjoying scrumptious treats, like reindeer roast or kalakukko, you can feel that the Finnish people remained faithful to their syberian and paleoasian origins – at least when it comes to the cuisine. The traditional dishes are still served in this country probably because of the rough climatic conditions, which make the introduction of new food sources impossible.
How do Finnish people eat?
Most of all, they use very little spice. For example, they only use chive to fish soup, because it is considered to be a bit to spicy. And they also serve paprika (Which of course is imported) with sugar and sour cream, to make it more mild. They drink a lot of milk and eat many milk products, but they are not common with white cottage cheese. Although they do stay strongly faithful to their own tastes, they couldn’t resist the influence of eastern-salvic cuisine. That’s why they enjoy eating Borsch and skewers
In Helsinki there are a lot of restaurants offering traditional Finnish food, but visiting them is quite an expensive pleasure. A good occasion to get familiar with the specifics of northern cuisine is Christmastime, which is celebrated according to longtime customs, also when it comes to those cuisine ones. Its worth analyzing the menus of numerous food places located around Helsnki’s Kauppatori, with exceptional attention on following positions:
Hakan reikaleipa – traditional bread from pink flour, formed as a ring with a hole in the middle.
Kalakukko – a real treat in Finnish cuisine- might cause a bit of dismay, both with its flavor and specific exotics. It is a fried dumpling from rye flour, stuffed with pieces of bacon, meat and most of all – with tiny sweet-water muikku fish, taken from the waters of lake Saimaa. This dish is served cold, and you wash it down with sour milk! Kalakukko is easiest to find around Savo, in the city of Kuopio for instance.
Karjalanpaitsi – karelska beef and mutton roast.
Karjalanpirakka – karelska dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese and cabbage.
Mammi – a dessert made out of malt, wholemeal, fruit skins and water, a traditional Easter dish.
Poronpaitsi – reindeer roast, served on Kauppatori at an amount of about 10 R, its flavor is similar to beef.
Tippaleipa – Swedish faworkis, a traditional dish from Helsinki’s adjacent region of Porvoo.
The plentiful lakes are the reason why Finnish tables often serve fish in many forms, for example smoked, served in sweet mayonnaise sweet herring in red wine. Dried cod in white sauce, smoked in the summer and dipped in special lye before serving and finally stewed is a perfect Christmas Eve treat. In the middle of August begins the crampon season (rapu aika); during a single celebration one guest can eat up to 30-40 crampons and wash it down with vodka. It’s difficult to imagine the everyday menu without thinking of the piima sour milk (prepared on a special leaven) and salted butter (unsalted is very rare). Among the rare holiday treat you just have to mention pate with dried plums (served at Christmas), sarvet croissants, Lapp smoked reindeer and salted salmon loin.
The residents of Finland drink lots and lots of milk (maito). They don’t only drink it to breakfast with butter and jam buns, but also lunch dishes, including herring and stew! Many amateurs have their derivatives – sour milk called piima, kefir, yoghurt and sweet sour cream. One of the most popular drinks is coffee, but you must honestly note, that it is usually very mild, not to say – thin. It has been said, that a statistic Finnish person drinks more coffe than a citizen of… Brazil. A big need of milk caffeine is probably connected with geographic and climatic conditions of Finland.
Bars, cafes and restaurants
In Finland there are lots of different types gastronomic locals (They are all functional, aesthetically furnished and clinically clean). However, in order to fully enjoy their offer – especially in the centre of Helsinki – you will need to have a stuffed wallet.
Bars and cafes have a remarkable service function – you only come there to drink coffee or have a snack rather to have a social meeting. Bars (Baari) are actually known for lunch dishes eating houses, which fill up with customers during the 12 o’clock working break. These are self-service places – you order the food yourself, but it is served straight to the table. The Finnish styled cafes (kahvila) is a place where people come for breakfast, lunch, a sweet treat and coffee, of course. At lunch time in many places comes the voileipapoyta – a buffet. You only pay once and you make the meal yourself from anything, you want to eat. On the top of the gastronomic hierarchy there are restaurants (ravintola), where apart delicious meals and high bills you can expect the waiter to ask you for the age – this is because of the strictly followed prohibition of selling alcohol drinks to minor people.