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Finland Cuisine


Finnish cuisine is notable for the use of wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats) and berries (such as blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and sea buckthorn). Milk and its derivatives like piimä are commonly used as food, drink or in various recipes. Various turnips were common in traditional cooking, but were substituted by the potato after its introduction in the 18th century.

Modern Finnish cuisine combines traditional country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental style cooking. Fish and meat play a prominent role in traditional Finnish dish from the western part of the country, while the dishes from the eastern part have traditionally included various vegetables and mushrooms, of which especially the latter were introduced to the dining tables of the western side as late as during World War II by refugees from Karelia.

In the new Finnish kitchen, dishes are lighter, smaller and generally contain several different vegetables. This mode of cooking is highly influenced by European and American cuisine.

To add some vitamins and make the rather heavy food more enjoyable, a traditional jam is made from lingonberry and served with meat. A more exclusive but not uncommon jam is the cloudberry jam. Blueberry soup and blueberry pie are very traditional Finnish desserts. The wild strawberry (metsämansikka) with strong aroma is also a seasonal delicacy decorating cakes, served with ice cream or just cream.

Traditional Finnish Dishes

Traditional Finnish cuisine shares a lot with Swedish, German and Russian cuisines. However, there are differences in preparation techniques: for example, Finnish dishes tend to be less sweet than Swedish ones, and Finns use little or no sour cream (smetana) in preparation compared to their Russian neighbours. Several traditional Swedish or Russian dishes are also absent.

Note that the term perinneruoka (traditional dish ) is often applied to specialities that are rarely eaten on a daily basis. These are often regional, associated with the older generations or confined to a specific holiday (for example, mämmi in Easter), and most people eat them rarely or not at all. To contrast with perinneruoka, the term kotiruoka (home-made food, even if in a restaurant) is applied to daily staple dishes. Meatballs, pea soup and rye bread are examples of such staples.

Some of the typical dishes traditionally consumed in Finland are:

  • Cabbage rolls (kaalikääryleet);
  • Game food – moose, deer, grouse, duck, hare, etc. Rarely attainable in restaurants. Common amongst those whose hobby is hunting;
  • Cold smoked fish;
  • Cold smoked salmon, Lox (Kylmäsavustettu lohi);
  • Gravlax (Graavilohi);
  • Cold smoked Perch;
  • Hernekeitto – peasoup;
  • Leipäjuusto, alternate name juustoleipä;
  • Mashed potato;
  • Lihapullat – Finnish meatballs;
  • Pickled Herring (usually with small potatoes);
  • Smoked fish (Many types of fish, like salmon, zander, pike, perch and Baltic herring);
  • Smoked ham (palvikinkku) or beef (palviliha).

Some regional dishes are:

  • Kalakukko in Savo;
  • Karelian pasties from Karelia, also popular elsewhere;
  • Karelian Stew/Hot Pot from Karelia, also popular elsewhere;
  • Klimppisoppa from Ostrobothnia, flour dumpling soup;
  • Mustamakkara from Tampere, blood sausage;
  • Mykyrokka from Savo, blood dumpling soup;
  • Pepu (a cooked dish made of water and flour, usually barley in a ratio of 1:3);
  • Rössypottu from Oulu;
  • Sautéed reindeer traditional in Lapland.

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