Finnish cuisine is a collaboration of different gastronomical cultures such as Sweden and Russia.
Their cuisine may not be as world-renowned as that of, say, Italy and France, and a guest might even need to develop a taste to really appreciate local Finnish food, but what Finns boast about is the abundance of their food supplies. Their forests are teeming with fresh produce and game, and lakes are a rich source of a variety of fish.
To better understand the Finns’ culture, you have to try some of their perinneruoka (traditional food) and kotiruoka (staple food). Here are some examples.
In case you visit Finland in Easter, make sure to try mämmi, a traditional Easter dessert made of rye, yeast, and water. The ingredients are mixed well to produce a sweet flavor, and then baked.
Mämmi is chilled for up to four days. Some Finns store it for almost a month.
As it is, mämmi already tastes sweet, but Finns love serving it with sugar and milk, dairy cream, or vanilla sauce.
Although it is normally eaten during Easter, you can find mämmi in food shops across Finland any time of the year.
Leipäjuusto is a traditional Finnish cheese. Traditionally, it is made with the cow’s colostrums or first milk, but goat and reindeer milk are popular substitutes.
To give leipäjuusto its characteristic charred surface, the cheese is baked, grilled or flambéed.
This cheese is also often referred to as Finnish squeaky cheese because of the funny sound it makes when eaten.
Leipäjuusto is served in different ways. Usually, it is tenderized in a pan and served with cloudberry jam. Sometimes, cream and sugar are poured on it before warming it up in the oven and plating it with cloudberry jam.
Leipäjuusto is also great when served with coffee.
Kalakukko is a Finnish bread filled with fish, bacon, and pork. It originated in the Savonia region, where in the olden days people worked far away from home and had to bring packed lunch. Their practical solution was to make thick-crusted bread, into which they’d put the meat for their meal.
Today, kalakukko is a famous food in Finland. The crust, which is about one centimeter thick, is traditionally made of rye flour.
The fish filling varies. Vendace and perch were originally used, but salmon has now become a common filling.
Kalakukko is best eaten with buttermilk. Finns eat it by first removing the top and spreading butter on it. The entire kalakukko can then be sliced, with each slice having bread and filling.
Kalakukko is served either hot or cold.
Karelian pasties are traditionally from the Karelia region. They are made of thin rye crust, with pinched ridges along the edges.
Originally, Karelian pasties were made with a filling of barley and talkkuna. Today, rice fillings are popular, although potatoes are also used.
Karelian pasties are best eaten with munavoi, a spread made of butter and boiled egg.
Mustamakkara, which literally means “black sausage,” originated in Tamperebut is now popular in the entire country. The sausage is made by mixing pig blood with pork, rye, and flour.
Market stalls sell mustamakkara fresh from factories. The sausage is best eaten with lingonberry jam and cold milk.