1079573660000Finland is located on the Nordic land and is the northernmost country in continental European. Bordering countries of Finland include: Sweden(in the western Finland), Norway (in the northern Finland) and Russia (in the eastern Finland). For the coastlines, Finland borders Gulf of Finland in the south, the Baltic Sea on the southwest and the Bosnian Gulf in the west. Finland has totally 338,145 square kilometers area, in which 304,623 square kilometers are lands and the rest is inland water. It has nearly 1,107 kilometers of coastline. Finland has the most amount of lakes in the world. Although some lakes locate in the borders of Russia and result hard to conclude the exact number of lakes, the Finland government still reached the number of at least 55,000 lakes, which are at least 200 meters wide, exist in Finland. (U.S. Library of Congress, Finland Geography, 2018) Helsinki is Finland’s capital city, and it is Finland’s largest city as well. The population is approximately 5.54 million, ranking 115th in the world. (Finland population, 2018)
The north part of Finland, locating in the Arctic Circle, suffers extremely severe and prolonged winters. During the year, the temperature could be extremely different. In winter, it could be -22?, and in short summer it could be as high as 80?. (Finland, 2018) However, in the south part Finland, the temperature became warmer. Influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift Current, the air can be warmer, so the weather is more comfortable than the north part. Also, in the winter, westerly winds bring the warm air currents into the Baltic areas and to the country’s shores, so the winter temperature is higher than north Finland. (U.S. Library of Congress, Finland Climate, 2018)
In Finland, Finnish takes the largest part of the country. As mentioned above, there are almost 5.54 million people living in Finland, 2018, and near 4.86 million people are Finnish. There are some minorities living in Finland. They are Swedish, Russian, Estonian, British, Somali, Arab, Kurd, Chinese and Sami. Once, Finland was under Swedish control, and Swedish dominated language of public administration, education, and nobility in Finland, no wonder Finland has so many Swedish, for 290 thousand people. Besides, because English is another widely spoken language throughout Finland, there are more than 16 thousand British living in Finland. However, compared to other countries sharing the similar square area in the world, like Vietnam, the ethnic groups in Finland are not very variable. (Population of Finland, June 5, 2018)
We know that Santa’s village locates in Lapland, Finland, so Christmas is the biggest holiday in Finland. During the Christmas season, everything will be closed for three days between December 24th and 26th, when everyone will enjoy a feast on Christmas, participate in religious ceremonies and exchange gifts. In addition, many locals also go to the sauna before sunset.
For Finnish residents, Independence Day is another festival of importance. It is held annually on December 6, when Finland got out of Russia’s control and became an independent country. During the day, the president will host a special VIP ball for diplomats, experienced athletes and great-honored artists, and televise for all to see.
Finland locates very north, so the winter, especially in the north part, is very long. Therefore, an interesting festival called Midsummer Festival (also known as Juhannus) is held on Saturday, June 20-26 every year. The festival celebrates the summer solstice, and the residents would like to drive to their summer cottage in the Lakeland, drink, and have bonfires around. (Finland Holidays and Festivals, 2007)
Bilberries: This kind of berry broadly grows in different types of forests all over Finland, and it is very important in Finland. It looks like a blueberry, but it has a subtle, aromatic flavor, which is different from cultivated blueberries. It is rich nutrients as well: high levels of vitamins A, B, and C and of manganese, calcium and flavonoids.
Lingonberries: Lingonberries grow in the color and shape as in the picture. They mature in September. Because of the bright color red, it is famous for the name “red gold of the Nordic forests”. Lingonberries contain large quantities of fruit acids, and they keep well without sugar or preservatives. Therefore, they are an important source of vitamins and other nutrients all year round in Finland. Besides, it can be used to produce jam, pastries and juice and used in porridge and various desserts. Lingonberries deserve the reputation of “gold”. (Treasures of the boreal forests, 2007)
Bread: Bread is very important in daily Finnish food. The most popular pie made from bread is called Karjalanpiirakka. Eastern Karelia is where the pastries originated from. From the poem in 19th century we can know it has become an essential part of the Finnish national identity. Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies fit our hands and they dissolve in our mouths. If you want to use the traditional way to make the upper crust, you need to fill the rye flour with potatoes, rice and carrots. What’s more, they are super delicious with egg butter on top.
New potatoes: Finnish eat lots of potatoes other than bread. There are endless variations of new potatoes in Finland (such as new potatoes with herring, new potatoes with fresh lake fish and chanterelle sauce), but the similarity is they are all equally mouth-watering. New potatoes start to appear around midsummer and their harvest makes the local papers each year. In Finnish, new potatoes and herring is called Silli Ja Uudet Perunat. (Iconic Finnish Foods of All Time, 2018)
Mushrooms: Boletus edulis and Boletus Pinophilus are common in Finland, except the northernmost part of Lapland. Finnish mushroom dishes are very Russian style, because they are often salted and eaten as a salad, also used to make creamy soups, sauces and casseroles.
Berries: It may be surprising that berries are also important vegetables in Finland. As mentioned above, different berries contain different nutrients. Therefore, berries can be not only fruits but also vegetables. For example, the bilberries contain vitamin A, B, C and many other chemical elements which are the same as other vegetables we eat every day can provide. (Treasures of the boreal forests, 2007 )Meats
Reindeer: Finnish people eat deer meat in all seasons. Reindeer, found in Lapland, northern Finland, is one of the healthiest foods that can be placed on a plate for it contains abundant B-12, omega-3, omega-6 and lean. Mashed potatoes are usually served with the dishes. (Iconic Finnish Foods of All Time, 2018)
Pork: Pork is another main meat in Finland. Finnish people like eating sausage very much, and one of the main meats to make sausage is pork. Finnish love sausage because they are able to cook a variety of sauces or soup, fill them with cheese and onions, or just grill the on a grill and serve with ketchup and mustard. Popular in other meat preparations such as meatballs usually served with potatoes and brown gravy. (Finland, we taste meat and fish, 2013)
Salmon: Salmon is the king of the major rivers. River Teno on the border between Finland and Norway is the most prolific salmon river in Europe and famed for its big salmon, weighing more than 15 kilos. The largest specimens weigh over 20 kilos. (Salmon, king of the major river, 2013) In Finland, the consumption of salmon has increased remarkably due to the increased import from Norway. (Review of the fish market in Finland, 1998)
Baltic herring: Baltic herring is the most common sea fish. One way the Finnish cook the fish is to make “Kalakukko”. It is similar to karjalanpiirakka, but it is very large in size, and most importantly, it is made of fish rather than rye. The most common of them are small trout fish in the eastern Lakes of Finland. People regard Karakuko as lunch. The pie contains everything you need for a complete meal. (Plant and animal life, 2018) (Iconic Finnish Foods of All Time, 2018)
Chicken is mostly eaten in Finland. Ducks are also eaten the most in Finland. What interesting is Finnish people like to make duck meat into a Duck meat hamburger. It is a very famous cuisine. In Finland, about 117 million kilograms of poultry meat are produced annually. The 90% of the said production is consumed in Finland. The production of poultry meat is concentrated near slaughterhouses in Southwest Finland, Satakunta, Southern Ostrobothnia and Pirkanmaa.
(Poultry husbandry, 2016)
Finnish cooking techniques include those commonly used throughout Europe, such as stewing, frying, boiling, seasoning, salting and baking. Traditional fish dishes are an exception, where often knowledge of a specific preparation technique is required. Bread, soup, sausages, pies, potatoes, seafood etc. are the most common foods found in Finland. There are two major cuisines in Finland. One of them is specific to the Western country, while the other one represents the Eastern regions. Two cooking styles emerged because of local availability of some ingredients and the influence of Swedish and Russian cuisines. The dishes of the Western Finns are based on fish and meat, while the Finns from the Eastern areas have developed many recipes that include vegetables and mushrooms.
The Finnish cuisine is a modern one, and utilizes the same utensils as found across Europe, such as knives, tablespoons, teaspoons, forks, scoops, pans, trays, pots, graters, spice grinders, scales and thermometers. The complexity of the dishes results in a use of a greater number of cooking tools, but rarely requires specialty tools. The use of coffee grinders has become more common for freshly grinding spices, as it maximizes the volatile oils and therefore flavor in the finished dish. (Finnish cuisine, 2010 )Everyday food still tends to be simple and fresh. All manner of fish is still very popular as are meats such as reindeer, moose, beef and pork, sausage products including a type of black pudding and game. Fresh vegetables and all dairy products remain popular. The tradition of serving berries such as lingonberries and cranberry sauce with meat stills holds today and bread is still an important item. (Finnish cuisine and receipts, 2007)
Flavoring and Seasoning Characteristics
Modern cuisine combines Eastern and Western cooking concepts and techniques, such as an increased use of spices. These continental dishes have gained much popularity.
The use of coffee grinders has become more common for freshly grinding spices, as it maximizes the volatile oils and therefore flavor in the finished dish.
Finland’s cuisine is still hearty although, as with many other western countries, haute cuisine and continental style cooking, including spices and herbs from both the east and west, has been incorporated. The use of ingredients such as rye, oats, barley and berries is still popular however the traditional use of tubers such as turnips as the main root crop has been superseded by potatoes since their introduction in the 18th century. (Finnish cuisine and receipts,2007)
Finland is a country full of heavy drinkers likely because alcoholic beverages in Finland are some of the most unique in the world.
Here I would like to introduce Sahti, a traditional Finnish beer.
Sahti is a Finnish farmer’s beer and the first brewer to brew beer in the 16th century. Turbid with tremendous body, a low-flocculating Finnish baker yeast creates a cloudy unfiltered beer with an abundance of sediment. Its color usually falls somewhere between pale yellow and deep brown. Traditionally unhoped, juniper twigs used during the brewing process create balance, imparting an unusual resin character and serving as a preservative. Meanwhile, exposure to wild yeast and bacteria gives Sahti its signature tartness. (Finnish Sahti, 2015) (Picture: Sahti: One of the World’s Oldest Beer Styles, 1994)
Traditional Finnish dishes have a great flavours, as well as a strong visual effect, and cooking styles vary across the country.
Traditional dishes are usually based on fish, meat, vegetables and mushrooms. Although dishes are similar, usage of specific ingredients varies between Eastern and Western Finland, because of local availability. Mushrooms in cooking also became more common amongst Finnish people during World War Two.
KARJALANPIIRAKKA is a very delicious traditional cuisine in Finland. Karjalanpiirakka are traditional pasties from the region of Karelia, but if you ask any Finn, they will know what they are and most likely love to indulge in them. Karjalanpiirakka are essentially rye crust with a filling of rice porridge. You can also fill them with mashed potato. You can eat them as is with a brush of butter on top or with a creamed butter and egg mix known as munavoi.
Mix cold water, salt, rye flour and plain flour into a hard dough. Roll around the dough into a long and thick log. Then cut it into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and press into a flat round cake on a floured board. Each cake circle is formed into a paper-like circle using a rolling pin. Use flour sparingly to ensure surface and dough do not stick. Stack up the rolled-out circles with a sprinkle of rye flour in between each sheet.
Once the filling has cooled down brush off excess flour and spread about 2 tablespoons of rice porridge in the middle of the dough in an oval shape. Ensure the filling reaches the top and bottom of the circle but leave the sides empty. Start to shape the piirakka by pinching the top end into a point, then with hands on either side of the circle pinch the sides from the top end to the bottom. As you pinch the dough will drag in, pinch the bottom end to a point (like the top).
Place finished piirakat onto a baking tray and bake in the oven at 240oC for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is crispy and lightly browned. After you remove from the oven brush the top with butter while hot and EAT!
To make the egg topping mix boiled eggs with creamed butter (6 eggs to 1/2 cup butter) and salt, then smother on top.
(KARJALANPIIRAKKA – FINNISH KARELIAN PIES, 2011)
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