Eating Reindeer Meat in Finland

On a quest to try as many authentic Finnish foods as possible, we ended up visiting an outdoor terrace which served Reindeer meat and samplers of Finnish beers in Helsinki, Finland.

Sampling a wide range of Finnish beers in Helsinki, Finland

I have to admit, sinking my teeth into Reindeer cold cuts felt terribly wrong. Growing up, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was one of my childhood heroes. How could I possibly eat Santa’s Little Helper?

As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve decided I’m willing to try anything once. As a culture vulture I want to experience as much authentic local cuisine as possible. And when in Finland you eat Reindeer.

What does Reindeer taste like?

It’s has a very rich gamey taste that is quite pleasing to the palette. If I had to compare it to something else it’s similar to Elk venison or a cured / sour roast beef.

For some this would certainly be an acquired taste; however, since I’m used to eating exotic kinds of meat, I enjoyed it immediately.

It was vastly better than the Reindeer meatballs we tried at the main market, which had a more generic unidentifiable taste.

Served with tart lingonberries and mashed potatoes it reminded me of a Thanksgiving dinner.

The outdoor terrace was actually part of the Jail House Hotel we stayed at in Helsinki.

A middle aged American man, wearing hippie attire, entertained the crowd in an intimate environment.

As he belted out classic rock, blues and folk songs from the 70’s we sipped on complimentary Finnish beer: regular draft, red ale and lager.

A close-up shot of Finnish beers on a table in Helsinki, Finland

I’d literary make the worst beer critic considering I more or less enjoy anything that touches my taste-buds.

My good blogging friends – Cam and Nicole – over at Traveling Canucks, are far more astute and sophisticated when it comes to grading different beers from around the world.

Overall, this was the perfect setting for me to try eating authentic Reindeer cold cuts for the first time. On a warm summer evening the beer was refreshing and the small meal that we shared hit the spot.

If you’re in Finland it’s an absolute must (if you’re not vegetarian or vegan) to try Reindeer. Instead of going for the ubiquitous bland Reindeer meatballs instead be willing to pay a little more for high quality Reindeer cold cuts and/or Reindeer steak.

Would you try Reindeer meat? What kinds of exotic meats have you tried around the world? Is there anything that is off limits for you? Please let me know in the comments section below:

Eating Reindeer meat and drinking Finnish Beer in Helsinki, Finland


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