Finland!

feature

Berry Porridge

Going to a new country means that I do try and respect local customs and not embarrass myself (or my half Finnish husband). I have something of a head start as we are close to his Finnish mother and aunt and her family so we have an idea of what the Finnish people are like. I thought that I should brush up on dining etiquette so I found a website that gave me the lowdown on Finns, those curious not-Scandinavian-but-rather-Nordic people that are shy at first but genuine and warm on subsequent meetings. My mother in law theorises that Finns are not used to a lot of social contact and years ago especially in Winter and houses being apart you'd not often come into contact with another person.

Finnish Dining Etiquette

If you are invited to a Finn's home:

  • Arrive on time. Finns are punctual in both business and social situations (this does not apply to my mother in law who is frequently late ;) )
  • Remove your outdoor shoes before entering the house.
  • Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish.
  • Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.
  • If you are invited for coffee and cake, there may be as many as 7 cakes to sample (woohoo!! Caaaaaaake!!)
  • Do not discuss business (fine, I'd rather discuss food).
  • Thank the hosts for the hospitality before saying good-bye to the other guests (I should think this is probably logical to everyone but those raised by wolves).

Table Manners

  • Wait to be told where to sit (good to know, I tend to view a table place like real estate and try to get the best spot)
  • Table manners are Continental - hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table (Interesting! What else would one be doing with their hands? I shudder to think why this rule is in place...)
  • Do not begin eating until the hostess invites you to start (must remind hungry husband about this)
  • Bread and shrimp are the only foods eaten by hand. Even fruit is eaten with utensils (very Seinfeld Snickers bar episode, I like it)
  • Accept second helpings (not a problem here)
  • When passing salt and pepper shakers, put them on the table within the person's reach. Do not give them directly (interesting! seems very Japanese)
  • Men should keep their jacket on at meals unless the host removes his (that is, if my husband is wearing a jacket!)
  • Finish everything on your plate. Finns do not appreciate waste (why a hungry husband always comes in handy).
  • When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right (different to what we do)

http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/finland-country-profile.html

I follow with some examples of Finnish food, of course

Finnish food

Kareljan Rice pie

Kareljan rice pie - delicious when heated

Seurasaari chili ice cream

Pineapple chili ice cream-absolutely gorgeous!

Megapussi

Megapussi just means mega large bag! Chips €2.69

Leipajuusto

Leippajusstoa and pikelets (Porkkanaohukainen) _ €2.49 and €1.35. Leippajusstoa is a squeaky cheese, like a less salty halloumi and is absolutely delicious.

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Vesanto Daim ice cream

_Daim bar ice cream-Daim bar chocolate outer (a bit thin, a little more Daim would be better. Vanilla ice cream underneath.

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Vesanto blueberry icecream

Blueberry ice cream

Cloudberry icecream

Cloudberry ice cream

Kotiuunin bear paw

Kotiuunin €3.59 (bear paws). Fried bread outer filled with blueberry filling. My uncle in law's favourite.

Finnish Donut

Berliinimunkki irto (strawberry jam filled donut bread) _ €1.00_

Sausages meatballs

Lihapyorykka (meatballs and sausages) €1.09

Inside pea

_Fresh Peas €5 for 2 litres. Finns eat these as a snack-they're unlike peas you get anywhere else, fresh, juicy and sweet.

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Vesanto meal

This was a lunch meal from a Vesanto restaurant, a beef stew that was actually delicious despite the look.

Vesanto meal

Veal Oscar from the above restaurant, not as good as the beef stew

Vesanto soup

Delicious creamy vegetable soup. I think this had sweet potato or pumpkin in it but also other vegetables. Something was Lost in the Translation so we didn't get the actual names of the vegetables.

Finnish apricots

Finnish apricots €2 a litre

Seurasaari

Seurasaari island

Seurasaari sign

My husband couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign...

Seurasaari squirrel

Squirrel at Seurasaari island

Helsinki aussie bar

The Finns promote Australia

Below are some pictures of the view around husband's uncle and aunt's country house, a gorgeous little log cabin in Vesanto, Finland,

Vesanto view

The walk from the traditional Finnish wood sauna to the lake to cool down

Vesanto view

The walk

Vesanto view

Rowing along the lake

Vesanto view

Lovely reflection 11.45pm at night

Vesanto view

Another reflection 11.45pm at night

Vesanto view

Another reflection 11.45pm at night

Vesanto view

Another reflection 11.45pm at night

I leave you with some tips on holidaying in Finland, not that I'm an expert by any means.

  • Buy a three day tourist travelpass for €12-it allows you access on all buses, trains, trams and some ferries and includes Suomenlinna Island.
  • Go during the time of the Midnight Sun/Midsummer. It's gorgeous during Summer and around August, all of the berries ripen
  • Most Finnish people speak English and are quite friendly. We had so many strangers start talking to us, which didn't really happen in other countries unless we were lost.
  • Beer o'clock is about 9am ;) Finns love to drink but are generally fairly pleasant drunks
  • Beg, Borrow or Steal a few days at a country house (ok don't steal, that's not nice) but the country areas of Finland are spectacularly beautiful. Watch out for mosquitoes though, bring repellent if you're going to the country areas by the water before August. Repellent can be expensive.
  • Eat berries and fruit! Finnish berries and fruit are definitely the sweetest and juiciest I've ever had in the world. Same goes for the peas, which they snack on, they're juicy and sweet and not in the slightest bit starchy.
  • Finnish Rye Bread is an acquired taste, one that I nor my husband or sister did not acquire, but it's worth a try.
  • Finnish food is definitely worth trying, there isn't anything particularly squeamish except for the whole cooked squid that I saw at the markets ;)
  • For coffee lovers, the less said about Finnish coffee, the better :(  If you're desperate for a good coffee fix, try Fazer cafe.