Helsinki: Comfort Quips

I am proud to be Finnish; well ethnically half Finnish, but nevertheless a Finn

Of course, I also hold my Arab half in the highest of esteems; but since I am currently in Finland (and soon to head back to Sweden), I’m currently in patriotic Finn mode

There is so much that has happened in the past week I have been here that I feel it would be a disservice to myself, all my wonderful readers, Helsinki, and of course my sleep cycle if I were to cram all my thoughts, photos, and diatribes into one textbook of a post; hence I plan to:

1) Quip on comforts

2) Head to bed, wake up and finish cleaning my flat pre-departure

3) Post again tomorrow in Stockholm…if time and inspiration allows; which it may not since the weather forecast has a stunning 19 degrees and sunshine on the agenda

or

4) Post later in the week on the various other tidbits I would like to cover in regard to this trip “home” to Helsinki- most notably explanations and ramblings regarding Finnish stereotypes and of course all dining out accounts

Alors- let’s get to the comfort quips, shall we?

Every morning for the past week, I brew a pot of potent Paulig Presidentti Coffee and sit on the windowsill of my 3rd story 19th century flat overlooking the Helsinki harbour; islands in the distance, hot air balloons speckling the sky, yachts parked at their docks, and small blindingly-blond haired tots playing tag in the park across the street- check out the view yourself:

Those would be the ice breakers; which true to their name meander their way around Helsinki’s harbours breaking the ice when it freezes over in the winter

***

Mornings are my most contemplative time of the day; a time to myself to reflect and sow my seeds of creativity as the bliss of coffee-originated caffeine begins to seep into my sense

But not without breakfast of course:

Ruiskarjalanpiiraka (Rye Karelian Pie filled with rice porridge), Fage & Cinnamon, Pluot & Kiwi

I miss this every year: Porkkanakarjalanpiiraka (carrot rice porridge filled Karelian Pie) with Fage, Fage w/ lingonberries and Finnish strawberries, Kahvi

Fage w/ lingonberries & Finnish strawberries, 1/2 Korvappusti (local cinnamon-cardamom pastry)

And then, today a little something different (except not really, since it is after all Finland and “different” has clearly defined limitations): Brunch, or rather Brunssi. Yes, brunch, that mimosa-sponsored feast Americans and nice hotels in the remainder of the world look forward to each weekend is a relatively new concept to Finland; which in typical Finnish fashion attracted skepticism at the idea of combining breakfast and lunch foods, but soon bloomed into the bandwagon EVERYONE wanted to jump on. And whaddaya know, everyone now has BRUNSSI! Yup brunssi from 9-16 Saturday and Sunday; and hey you can probably even stick around all seven hours! Finland wants you to know that brunssi hours are made to accommodate each and every individual’s weekend schedule.

A friend of mine, Cecily who graduated a little over a year before me from the same college just moved to Helsinki this week to continue her studies here for the next few years and we concluded that brunssi would be the perfect venue for a catch-up slash Finn appreciation meal sesh on this gloriously sun-laden Sunnuntai (which means Sunday…excuse me, I kind of have forgotten my English and have reverted back to speaking with an accent, pronouncing jam as yam and giving thoughtful little “Ajas” or “Joos” in whispers as acknowledgements)

Marta and I met Cecily at Stockmann, and headed over to Laivurikatu to brunch at Ravintola Primula:

For 18 euros, you get unlimited (albeit quite Finnish) buffet and a bit of bubbly (emphasis on the bit)

She can certainly pass more easily as being Finnish than I can; and speaks the language very eloquently as well- which is quite impressive (and flattering to Finns) considering she from the States

Marta: Watermelon (I’m so resisting the urge to write the plate descriptors in Finnish), barley salad with sundried tomatoes, lihapullat (meatballs), lohi (salmon), rye baguette

Me: Kalkkuna (turkey coldcuts), carrots w/ feta, olive tapenade, Finnish mustard, assorted Finnish rye breads, barley salad with sundried tomatoes, Finnish potatoes with capers, olive oil, and those baby shrimps everyone is so obsessed with

Me (Round 2): Rucola, beet/oregano salad, watermelon & pineapple, the very very last new potato in the buffet dish (sadness)…the new potatoes here are the best and most delicious in the entire universe.

Cecily: Bread with orange marmelade, assorted fruits, capers potatoes, and meatballs (she had a round two but I was too distracted discussing Finnish immigration policies to remember to prend un photo)

It was a lovely time in all and we were lucky to have weather wonderful enough to warrant outdoor seating; there was even a point where I felt too hot (temperature-wise) for my new black Cheap Mondays (yes, there will be a fashion post in the semi-near future).

Apres le brunssi, Marta and I set out on a walk around the gorgeous Kaivopuisto; a pristine green park overlooking the Gulf of Finland and archipelago of manors in the distance:

Walks in the park always warrant a stop for Pehmis; Finnish soft serve ice cream- which is far superior to any other ice cream in the world

Speaking of sweet things; I am having a bit of a luggage weight predicament:

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Finland’s most scrumptious brand, Karl Fazer has the best chocolate in the world; it beats Switzerland, Belgium, British Cadbury, and anywhere else; and believe me I am quite the chocolate connoisseuress so you have my best assurance that my words are truth.

I mean, doesn’t eight kilos of it to bring back home to friends, family, and myself suffice as any proof?

And we obviously take our chocolate, candy, and salmiakki/lakritsi (licorice) very seriously here

***

Being back in Finland is always comforting and nostalgic; it is the one home which has remained in place throughout my entire life and one which I visit consistently enough to maintain familiarity with

I always anticipate stepping on the Finnair aircraft in Stockholm or London and hearing the boarding announcements and chatter of my fellow citizens; the unmistakeable dramatic annunciations of syllables in the Finnish language; the monotonous emotionally void rapid speech; cartwheels from sentence to sentence ending abruptly with an exhausted breath, coming a millisecond too soon and thus tiring out the last unfortunate word to be spoken. My excitement has to be contained in the constraints of the Finnish language when I get to say, “Kahvi, ilman maito tai sokeri,” when the stewardess comes around with the beverage cart

And the moment of pride: Helsinki Customs, standing in the EU queue and contradicting the stereotypes of the immigration officials with not only a clean maroon “SUOMI FINLAND” emblazoned passport, but also the most Finnish of Finnish surnames. That’s right.

Tervetuloa Kotiin (Welcome Home)

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22 thoughts on “Helsinki: Comfort Quips

    1. Yes! I have once a while ago, and it’s delicious, but I still stand by my Finnish Fazer ๐Ÿ˜‰ Scandinavian chocolate doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of attention it truly deserves!

  1. I’ve never tried Karl Fazer chocolate before. I’ll try and look out for it.

    Those Karelian pies look interesting. What is the crust made of?

    1. It’s amazing!!!! Very very rare to find in the States though hence my massive haul back home! The karelian pie crust is made of rye; they’re actually a pretty healthy breakfast/snack/accompaniment- extremely difficult to make (but store bought suffices) and the epitome of a delicious comfort food!

  2. I need me some of that chocolate…proof that you and I would get along amazingly: at least 1/3 of your luggage is occupied with chocolate :D! Those skies are gorgeous, SO beautifully blue!

  3. I want to be in Finland! Instead of here in LA. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    I always “bring home chocolate for family and friends” which is really just code for I’m embarassed by how much I’m taking and need a cover but have no plans to give it to anyone. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Beautiful photos – I can’t wait to see the city firsthand one day!

    1. You are always welcome to visit me here (during the time I visit I suppose haha)
      Yes, it’s such a beautiful and efficient place- and best of all NEVER any crowds anywhere! And the chocolate is seriously world class which is why I feel the need to promote it amongst my friends

  4. Mornings are the sammme for me too!! I just sit there with some green tea and think about…life.

    Your breakfasts look so good…now that I’m learning about Finnish food, I’ll know that I have to get those pies!

    That’s awesome that you’re meeting a classmate in a different country ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ Not 100% fluently; but semi-fluent; like I can definitely get around in nothing but Finnish albeit a few grammar errors. It’s an insanely difficult and BIZARRE language- especially the grammar structure and words; but nevertheless a fun language to speak

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