Over the years I’ve transformed from being a backpacker to more of a flashpacker. Part of this transformation has to do with my ever demanding taste buds that constantly are on the lookout for exotic foods. When I landed in Finland for the first time, roughly one month ago, I was just as eager to sample local Finnish cuisine as I was to explore Helsinki and engage in adventure sports in the Finnish Archipelago.
Arriving without many preconceived expectations, I was wearing my culture vulture crooked hat with the idea I’d just dig right in – indulging in as many Finnish foods as I possibly could.
The following is a sample of some of my favorite Finnish treats, in chronological order, as they appear in the video:
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Finnish Reindeer Meat
I grew up idolizing Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. How could I possibly think of sinking my teeth into Santa’s Little Helper? Well, considering I’ve tried exotic meats such as llama in Peru and dog in South Korea, I’m always game for trying something at least once.
A lovely plate of assorted Reindeer cold cut meat was brought to our table with a side of lingonberries and potatoes lightly dressed with a vinaigrette.
My first bite of authentic Reindeer meat (more on that later) immediately had me thinking this was the richest meat I’ve ever tasted. Tender and rich in flavor it certainly tasted like other game meat I’ve tried in the past. I noticed immediately it had a bit of a sour aftertaste. Although, I wouldn’t rank it as my favorite meat, by any stretch of the imagination, I would certainly try it again. In fact, I did get to sample it again in the form of meatballs which had more of a generic taste. If I had to choose between the two I would definitely go with the cold cuts.
Salmiakki (Salty Black Licorice)
I come from a family who adores licorice in all shapes, sizes and flavors; however, I’ve never tried salty licorice before in my life. Many foreigners, trying Finnish salty licorice for the first time, spit it out immediately as it simply overwhelms their palette with its overpowering astringent, salty flavor; if you search on YouTube, you can have a laugh watching them cringe as they pop it in their mouth. Prior to eating my first bite of Salmiakki, I was convinced I was going to like this. Unsurprisingly, I did. In fact, I couldn’t stop devouring it! It’s certainly one of those polarizing foods that you one typically either loves or hates. Audrey, ended up spitting it out (which you’ll notice if you watch the video clip above). Salmiakki, is a staple in Nordic countries and is especially popular in Finland. It reminds me of the love affair Aussies have with Vegemite; an acquired taste (or not) for most.
While having breakfast at the Finnish Jailhouse Hotel in Helsinki, we noticed a peculiar shaped pie being offered up as part of the breakfast buffet. These pastries, typically made from a thin rye crust have potatoes, buckwheat, barely, rice or millet as a filling. The ones we tried had potatoes inside and were an immediate hit; we both ended up going back for seconds. Known locally as karjalanpiirakat or karjalanpiiraat these pastries are also a quite popular in Estonia.
Salmon with Rye Bread & Cream Cheese (or hummus) spread
Last but certainly not least is Finnish smoked salmon used as a topping for rye bread with copious amounts of cream cheese and/or hummus spread. This literally became our favorite picnic meal or do it yourself dinner during our short stay in Finland. As salmon worshipers, we couldn’t get enough of this stuff; literally, eating it every day at least once. What enhanced things even more was pairing the salmon with Finnish rye bread. On our flight from Instanbul to Helsinki, we started chatting with a Finnish girl returning home from extended travels. We asked her what Finnish foods she missed the most – without hesitation she stated rye bread.
Our trip to Finland was assisted by Visit Finland; however, our taste buds are rather unruly and certainly have a mind of their own 😉
hey! great to see your video in my own country!
and blue beer you drank at that video, it is a Finnish Hartwall’s beer but the most popular beer in Finland Hartwall BEAR is a 4.5% beer, here’s a link on the picture: http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karhu_(olut)!
and the other Finnish Karelia favorite beer is 4.6% in this link: http://wikke.kapsi.fi/olut/oluet.php?beer_id=75!
and just amazing that one of you had even a mild and fresh salmikkista!
my favorite is the turkkin pepper licorice this link to the image: http://www.potku.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=732144!
it is at that you eat a really strong licorice flavor, we eat that which you liked, Usually the kids are eating it here in Finland!
and I could not live without the salty liquorice, chocolate, I eat very, very rare!
voih … You would have to try the sautéed reindeer, it is an absolute delicacy here in Finland: http://www.cartinafinland.fi/fi/picture/19655/Poronk%E4ristyst%E4+ja+puolukkahilloa.html!
Karelian pasty and put the egg on top of a win then it is the absolute number one: http://kokkailuakotona.blogspot.com/2008/12/karjlanpiirakat-ja-puolukkapiirakka.html!
the information for future travelers who come to take a look at Finnish! WELCOME =D
Thank you for sharing all of these great options for food in Finland. My readers really appreciate it and I hope I get a chance to try some of these things!
I swear that plate is full of magic! I’m craving Finnish cuisine so much right now!
Great shots of Finnish cuisine! A few food allergies unfortunately make me very cautious when I’m traveling, so I always have to sample fewer things then I’d like, but I’m a big fan of collecting packaged snacks from other cultures.
Traveling with food allergies must be frustrating at times. I’m lucky I don’t have any that I know of.
Love the video ! All cuisine looks yummy and delicious.
Thanks Peter! It truly was amazing food. I miss the salmon the most.
Salmon … love it, yummy !!! 🙂
So do I!
Do we have anything that is purely vegetarian, I mean not even eggs? Even I love to sample local cuisine! 🙂
Some of the salads looked as though they were pure veg 🙂
I’m yet to try authentic Finnish cuisine but it looks good, especially the salmon (or I just like salmon anyway) 🙂
I just like salmon anyway as well! hahaha…it would taste good on anything to me.
Mmmm this all sounds super tasty! I can’t wait to try it all when we move to the region next year!!
That’s great Heather! You’ll really get to sample it all then.
That salmon sounds delicious! I’ve never had any Finnish food, nor really ever given any thought to what Finnish food actually is…so thanks for sharing! 🙂
I really didn’t know hardly anything about Finnish cuisine until I arrived. I was impressed that most dishes came with a generous portion of vegetables and were centered around fish.
Reindeer meat is so good! I’m glad you had a chance to try it. Reindeer sausage is really good too with a little mustard and relish.
Would have loved to have tried the sausage! I think game meat typically tastes best in that form. I grew up eating quite a bit of deer and elk sausage…MMMMMmmmmm 🙂
That’s awesome!! Haven’t thought too much about Finnish food before but you do a great job representing it. Even Rudolph! ;-P
I wish I could have tried more salmiakki flavored products such as chocolate and beer.
I soooo have to make my way to Finland! I wouldn’t mind trying a little of Santa’s Little Helper. 😀
I hope you get to go soon Cheryl!
It’s a fantastic country to visit. I miss it these days 🙁
Don’t know why this post totally inspired me to go and try local food in Guatemala 🙂 I have absolutely no access to Finnish food, but seeing this makes me want to experience (almost) all foods – NO BUGS. I draw the line there.
That’s fantastic Marina!
You have a very open mind. I know a lot of people who would stop well short of bugs 😉
Loved the video. All of those foods sound really good… except maybe the licorice 🙂
Thanks Beth! For those who don’t licorice, it’s a brave en-devour trying Salmiakki 😉
I love licorice, and it’s something I’ve been craving here in HK… just not black licorice!
I hear you! It’s hard to get good licorice in Asia 😉
Great video! You can almost taste the Salmiakki and the reindeer meet sounds so intriguing! What a fun and fabulous introduction to the Finnish palate! Off to make some rye bread….!
I hope you get an opportunity to try Salmiakki and Reindeer meat soon.
I bet your rye bread tastes good!