Facts about Finland: Food
The Foreigner’s Guide to Finland touched on the subject, but here’s a more comprehensive package about Finnish cuisine.
Every food here is made out of potatoes. Even bread and pies. People put raw potato slices in their morning porridge and the best-selling pizza in Finland has a potato topping.
The common term for all food is “pottua” (taters). It’s used in the same way as “tea” is in the UK. The potato is considered holy by the Finnish state church, and it was illegal to waste potatoes until 1998 when the law was overturned. So children who didn’t finish their dinner could be senteced to death by mosquito bites.
If Italy has pizza, England has fish and chips, France has snails, Scotland has haggis and America has the hamburger, then Finland has kuppipotut. The recipe is simple. Take a bunch potatoes fresh from the field and boil them. Melt some butter in a cup and add some chives, dip the potatoes in the butter and enjoy. That’s the most advanced food we’ve come up with so far.
The Finnish coat of arms is a potato surrounded by skis.
Salmiakki is made out of ammonium chloride (basically bleach) and it’s mainly used in candy, but you can find cakes, ice cream, soda, vodka and pretty much anything else with salmiakki flavouring. If you want to know what salmiakki tastes like, go to any roadwork and eat bitumen used in road surface bonding (just wait for it to cool down a bit first).
Salmiakki started out as a practical joke for foreigners, but because we’re poor and indigent, we had to eat it ourselves. Slowly we developed a taste for it, and now it’s ingrained in our psyche. Salmiakki taste reflects the Finnish spirit perfectly. It’s dark and bitter.
According to Finnish scientists salmiakki tastes like kissing Jesus (or if you’re an atheists, James Randi)
We love milk. Everybody drinks it all the time. With dinner. With supper. With lunch. With brunch. If we go abroad and can’t get a glass of milk with our dinner, we cannot eat. We get cranky and drink alcohol instead to ease our crankiness.
That’s why we’re always drunk on holidays abroad. Nobody in their right mind would go to a strange country just to pass out from alcohol poisoning every night. It’s just that we have to, because we can’t get proper milk.
Because Finland doesn’t have cows anymore we import our milk from Sweden. When times get rough we sometimes drink shrew milk or human milk. No reindeer milk though. Yuck, that would be disgusting!
Because of our harsh climate we cannot grow any fruits here. In fact, there’s no word for fruit in the Finnish language, we just call them “bloody big berries” (vitun isoja marjoja).
Only after the 2nd World War we started importing fruits. They’re horribly expensive, because they have to be individually packed in foil and shipped here on airplanes. Otherwise they’d freeze and go bad before hitting the shop shelves. I’ve got many friends who have never tasted an apple, for example.
The rarest fruit in Finland is the banana. Only the Emperor of Finland and state guests are allowed to eat bananas.
Lipeäkala is a piece of fish that has gone bad. Then it’s soaked for days in a bucket of lime so all the decomposing bacteria die. After turning translucent, the fish is covered in black pepper (in a futile attempt to mask the smell of sodium hydroxide) and served as a christmas delicacy. Foreigners might know this awfulness as “lutefisk”.
Needless to say, it smells like the end of the world. It’s indescribable how horrible the lime-soaked rotten fish carcass smells. Picture an inept serial killer, who has tried to dissolve his victim in a weak acid bath, for two whole weeks, and you’ll get the idea.
Some people eat it, and even like it, which is mysterious even to most Finns. We think they must be descendants of Neanderthal men, with completely different taste buds and three stomachs like a cow.
Lipeäkala has been banned by the Third Geneva Convention.