Iconic Finnish Foods of All Time
Finns are passionate about their food and they know how to celebrate it. Finns are also fiercely loyal to their culinary roots. Although you can buy just about anything your heart desires in Finland these days, go native when you are here and you will be in for a treat.
We’ve compiled a list of ten iconic foods that you SHOULD try – go on, don’t be shy.
These pastries originated in the eastern province of Karelia. This is the mythical birthplace of Kalevala, the epic 19th century poem that has become an essential part of the Finnish national identity.
Kalakukko are similar to karjalanpiirakka, but bigger in size and made with fish. They are most commonly filled with muikku, a small herring-like fish found in the Lake District of Eastern Finland.
A Finnish summer is not complete without grillimakkara. These big, fat sausages made for grilling are eaten with mustard and washed down with beer. Finns love them.
Korvapuusti translates into “slapped ears” in English but they are essentially cinnamon buns. And while Finland doesn’t hold a patent on cinnamon buns, they might seriously make the best.
Ruisleipä – rye bread, made from sour dough, is a staple of the Finnish diet. There are many varieties but the most popular and widely available is reikäleipä, meaning a bread with a hole. People used to hang their bread on poles from the rafters.
Mustikkapiirakka (and other pies made of berries)
In July and August blueberries paint the Finnish forest. They are everywhere and could cause a sense of panic if you are not used to seeing them in such abundance. You will want to pick them all and freeze them for winter. Which the Finns do but they are best enjoyed in the summer months, on their own or in homemade pies.
Silli ja uudet perunat
New potatoes with herring (silli). New potatoes with fresh lake fish and chantarelle sauce. New potatoes with fish roe (mäti). New potatoes with just a knob of butter, some dill and a little salt.
The variations are endless but equally mouth-watering – the Finns can talk about new potatoes for a long time, as the little spuds hold the promise of a summer still uncorked.
Crayfish parties or “kraftskiva”, were originally a Swedish tradition that the Finns adopted and celebrate with finesse each summer. These small fresh water lobsters are considered a gourmet treat and they are not cheap. Which is why they are feted in style.
Served with mashed potatoes, this dish is eaten throughout the country, in all seasons.
Known in English as “Finnish Squeaky Cheese” and also called Juustoleipä or “cheese bread”, this mild cheese is most often made from cow’s milk but can also be made from reindeer or goat’s milk. The milk is first curdled and then fried or baked in a pie tin and cut in wedges. It is most delicious with cloudberry jam!
Full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.