Helsinki: Syö kuin suomalainen

Can you guess what the title of this post means?

Unless you speak Finnish, Estonian, or possibly Hungarian chances are probably not

Finnish is one of the most unusual languages bearing nothing more than a shriveled atom of resemblance to English, the other Latin-derived languages, and any of the other Scandinavian languages- plus, it’s grammar structure is ridiculously difficult to comprehend; we have no masculine or feminine (he and she is the same word, which is why you will often encounter Finnish people who will say “he is…” when they’re referring to your wife); and the words are LONG. Very long. Which is probably why we run out of breath at the end of our sentences

I am not 100% fluent in Finnish as I only spend up to a month here each year; but I can get around decently albeit a few grammatical/tense errors. What I don’t understand though is how tourists get around in Finland as there is close to NOTHING in English; but only Finnish and Swedish (the second official language). Oh well, written Swedish is kind of just like English words with an intense Swedish accent so you can always just look at the Swedish translation to figure out the cafe menu or how long your metro ticket lasts for

And for the record; the title of this post means: Eat like a Finn…in Swedish that would be: Ät som en finne

If you eat like a Finn, you will probably consume some form of korvapuusti (Finnish cardamom cinnamon bun with rock sugar) at some point throughout your day:

Perhaps at breakfast with some freshly brewed Presidentti Coffee and some yoghurt with lingonberries & strawberries

Or perhaps you will stop at the Stockmann bakery:

Stockmann Bakery

And pick up some mid-shopping sustenance:

Keskikoko Korvapuusti (Medium sized Slapped Ears Cinnamon Bun)

Or maybe you just feel like some sweet and spice the size of your face:

ISO KORVAPUUSTI (humongous, size-of-your head Finnish cinnamon bun)

In that case, head over to Cafe Esplanad and pick up one of these cinna-mountains; and make sure to buy a few extras to take home to the parents (which will inevitably get crushed in korva-pancakes in your luggage…but who cares they taste just as good)

If you eat like a Finn, there will be Karelian Pies! Carrot, plain, rye…you will eat them sometime somewhere with some sort of a buttery type of spread

My uncle and I like 'em best for breakfast with mustapekka (black pepper-crusted Finnish cheese) and a generous pile of reindeer cold cuts (tastes like pastrami)...unfortunately when I b-fast with family members at 6am, taking photos is far out the question

And you will thus wholeheartedly agree with this statement:

If you eat like a Finn, your chicken will always be corn-fed; and the menu will make sure you know it…and there will probably also be some bizarre addition of a tropical fruit to your dish:

Johan's Restaurant in Porvoo: Grilled corn-fed chicken with summer tarragon sauce...and a slice of grilled pineapple (Grillattua maissikananrintaa ja kevätrakuunakastiketta)

And it will probably come with some sort of salad that has radishes in it:

And naturally everything you eat will be served on dining ware made by either Iitala or Arabia (I’m actually surprised this brand wasn’t created on behalf of my family)

If you eat like a Finn, you will eat a balanced meal in the form of seafood protein, potato and rye bread carbohydrates, and cabbage/radishes as your vegetable:

Nordic Snack Platter: Clockwise from top left: New potato radish salad with mustard dressing (varhaisperuna-retiisisalaatti, sinappikastike), Warm smoked salmon with tartar sauce (lämmin savulohi, tartarkastike), Spring cabbage roll with herb sauce (Varhaiskaalikääryle ja yrttikastike), Prawns on toasted archipelago bread (Katkarapuskagen saaristolaisleivällä)

If you eat like a Finn, you will impulsively purchase a litre of local chanterelle mushrooms on sale for 2 Euros at an open-air market and decide to make a supper out of it

And if you go to Kauppatori (Market Square) near closing time at around 16:00, the parsley will probably be on a 1 euro special as well

Then, you will scrounge your fridge and make a feast out of the staples:

Assorted rye breads

Turun Sinappi (Finnish Mustard from Turku) also own reindeer-patterned placemats. Bon Appetit/Hyvää Ruoka!

If you eat like a Finn, “custom” salads from bustling cafes will become your regular lunch staple:

Keskikoko Salaatti (Medium Salad) from Fazer 8 at Stockmann: Greens (salaatti), cucumber (kurkku), tomatoes (tomaatti), chicken breast (kananrinta), sundried tomatoes (Did you mean: sun dried tomatoes aurinkokuivattuja tomaatteja), marinated mushrooms (marinoituja sieniä)
Salad with mango chicken, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives
Salad with chicken breast, olives, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and honey yoghurt dressing (hunajaajogurttikastike)

If you eat like a Finn, your airplane snack might be in fact Swedish…but nevertheless involving some sort of rye and cheese:

If you eat like a Finn, you know quite well that no day is complete without some jäätelö (preferably in the form of Valio Pehmis Soft Serve Ice Cream):

Especially on a sunny day in the park.

 So tell me, do you eat like a Finn?

Or would you like to?

Have I changed negative stereotypes about our formerly infamous cuisine?

PS: Check out my new article for Emaho Magazine on Swedish food; and I have one which will be defending Finnish food coming up soon (I’ll post the link when it comes out…naturally)


22 thoughts on “Helsinki: Syö kuin suomalainen

  1. I did not know that the Finnish ate Rye bread! I’ve always been a huge fan since I was young– I lovelovelove the seedies 😀

    I’m pretty sure I’d love to eat like a Finn. Actually, I’d love to eat like anyone with a mildly healthy diet, just for the sake of exposure 😉

  2. Stop posting those pictures of that unbelievably delicious soft-serve. Especially since I can’t even buy anywhere else except in Finland!!

    Ok hunger anger is over.

    But starting your day with a cinnamon bun sounds amazing. All of their baked goods look amazing actually!

      1. You’re one of my top commenters too!!!! Thanks for that, and I love reading your comments too- plus I love your blog and you’re hilarious! And I hope you come to Finland one day because the soft serve and cinnabuns are BOMB.COM 😉

  3. You’ve definitely changed my mind – eating like a Finn looks delicious!

    BTW, are the Wasa snack packs tasty? They look so convenient for work, but I can’t decide whether or not to buy them…

    1. YES! Try them, I mean it’s obviously not REAL cream cheese due to shelf life issues, but I like snacking on them- do they have them in Germany as well? The chives flavour is pretty good too…actually they’re all pretty good if you like Wasa crackers 🙂

  4. Hello dear! You are so cute. This is another Finn hailing from Paris, soon to move to Canada. I was back in Finland for two weeks – haven’t lived there in a decade anymore – and had my (usual) serving of ice-cream. I am lactose-intolerant and can only have lactose-reduced goodies over there. Jäätelö does rule that country – no matter what the season! My French hubby had hard time believing his eyes when Finns went all ice-cream crazed at Xmas time, since in Paris it is a very much of a summery treat.

    1. Kiitoksia 🙂 Well, luckily Finland is full of laktoositon goodies as well, but Finnish ice cream is the best; I’ll take it any day over gelato or American ice cream!

  5. just reminded me of one of my favorite bun recipes, which I do at least once every year: swedish cinnamon buns, better know as kannelbullar. should be quite similar to the finish korvapuusti.

    and I think its great that you can communicate in such a hard language as finish. doesn’t matter whether fluent or not – you can get yourself some food, thats all that matters :p

  6. I love pretty much everything in this post except the rye bread. I can’t acquire a taste for rye!

    Welcome back…I hope Portland is treating you as well as Finland. 🙂

  7. I have to be honest and say I had never heard of the Fin food stereotype! And looking at everything you have photographed these past weeks it looks like some of those dishes I would really enjoy. And PS how cute are you in that pic!!

  8. You have definitely changed my view of Finnish cuisine! Screw language barriers, the food can do the talking! I only ever associated dark rye with Finnish cuisine (which was enough for me to love it) but I love all this new info. And clearly they know what’s up with their mindset “no day is complete without some jäätelö “–> amen!

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