A merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed your merry season with your loved ones and weren’t too silly in the process.
To continue on my series of Scandi foods, we’ll have a look at what the Finns eat. Their snack foods were rather standard (and perhaps not as highly spiced as ours), but they certainly had interesting names.
But more seriously, the Finns like their baked goods, especially their sweet buns. And they also seem to like their pancakes too. We went to a traditional pancake house in the middle of Oulu, and sampled some of their savoury pancakes – Hubby had the salami and cheese.
While I tried the salmon and dill. They were a bit too salty for me, but Hubby enjoyed his.
We also ate some distinctly Finnish cuisine. A summer crayfish salad – refreshing as the spring weather peaked over 20C.
Grilled reindeer steaks with lingonberry sauce – gamey and hearty.
And shortcake tart with cloudberry sauce. I hadn’t seen cloudberries before but it’s the summer berry from Sweden and Finland. They grow on the edges of swamps and also makes a good local liqueur.
So the Finns eat pretty well when the weather is warm, but like a lot of cold climate cultures, preserved foods (jams, pickled vegetables, meat and fish) played, and still plays, a big part of their diet. So different to Australia where the climate is so mild to have fresh food available all year round.
The Finns, like the Danes and Swedes, also have a thing for open sandwiches. When we had lunch at a cafe in what was the Helsinki equivalent of Dymocks, we had a good selection to choose from. I chose the smoked ocean trout with salad, egg, dill and sour cream, and rye bread of course underpinning it all. It was delicious.
Our lunch was so delicious that we came back a few days later to sample more. This time I was more adventurous, and tried the Baltic/North Sea special of pickled herring. All the countries around the Baltic and North Sea seem to like this preserved fish. It’s not only available at lunch, but also at breakfast, and even as a snack! It’s certainly very strong flavoured, and so goes well with boiled eggs, onions and leeks, and strong, dark rye bread.
Our food adventures in Stockholm consisted firstly of an Irish pub.
Hubby had a craving for fish and chips, you see. What was served had the correct trimmings, but seemed to have been a bit long in the fryer.
But this being Stockholm, you simply can’t get away from those Swedish meatballs, even in an Irish pub. Mind you, it tasted good with a pint of stout.
The next day we had another encounter with those meatballs, but in a dungeon.
Apparently this used to hold back in the day the most notorious prisoners in the country, including one who assasinated the king.
Hubby had his encounter with meatballs.
While I had an encounter with some very nice goulash, despite the simplicity of the accompaniment – the cafe I suspect was run by Eastern Europeans.
In the past, my experience of Scandinavian food consisted of the offerings of Ikea and eating Danish pastries, so finding out the reality of all was fascinating. What was obvious was that no matter the country, Scandinavians loved their fish. They would eat it three times a day! On offer at our Copenhagen hotel breakfast buffet, along with dark rye breads, was cold meats, boiled eggs, cheese, and pickled herring! Oh, and those Danishes too.
At lunchtime, we also had fish and bread, this time as an open sandwich. Below, I tried out the smoked eel with scrambled egg, while Hubby tries a version of a crab salad. The bread came with two different spreads – the ubiquitous Lurpak butter, and lard with bacon bits. The latter was surprisingly tasty.
At dinner time, there was also plenty of fish, prepared and accompanied simply. Hubby tried the pan-fried plaice.
I tried the pan-fried salmon – also very tasty. Much of the salmon eaten in the region came from farms in Norway, where the water is cold and clean.
I’ll be reporting back on Scandi food as I post my way through them.