By this November, I have been living abroad for five years. During that time my eating habits and desires have completely changed. Here in Silicon Valley, we have a lot of people from Asia and India, so I have gotten to know the Asian kitchen better. My daily routines have also changed. In Finland, it is typical to eat dinner already around 5 pm, but today our dinner time is around 7 pm. A lunch can be something lighter, like salad or soup, but not as heavy as I was used to eating.
But every Finn living out of the country seems to be missing some Finnish food or treat. It has been fun to read all the posts on social media about their summer trips back home. Candy, rye bread, black liquorice, ice cream, bread cheese, sausage.... and the post usually ends with a picture of their luggage stuffed with treats to take home. And, I always do exactly the same!
This year's most anticipated treat was, like always, rye bread. Since my trip was right when the first potato harvest was ready, I was also super excited to have some new potatoes. They are so tasty! Bread is very different in Finland compared to most countries. Rye bread is very dark and dense, often with a hint of sourness in it. Many times it is baked with a starter, as opposed to yeast. Last winter I got a Finnish bread starter, and it has gotten almost famous here in Silicon Valley. Many Finnish families now have a piece of it in their kitchen. If you bake rye bread, it doesn't take that much more effort to make Karelian pasties. They are salty pastries from Karelia, an area that Finland once lost to Russia. On top of the rye crust you have rice pudding, and you eat them with butter and boiled egg.
Finnish pulla has become popular in our family. Unfortunately, I am a lazy baker so I don't make it often. Finnish pulla reminds me of cinnamon rolls but is not quite that sweet. I also love Runebergs' torte which are made in honor of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, a Finnish poet. They are typically only made around February 5th, on Runebergs Day, and they are flavored with almond, arrack and some raspberry jam. During Christmas time, it is common to make star pastries filled with prune. I usually visit Ikea during Christmas time since they carry the Scandinavian Christmas drink glögg and Finnish style gingerbread dough.
BERRIES AND MUSHROOMS
I also miss fresh berries and mushrooms from Finland that you can pick from any forest for free. At the same time, you get to breath some fresh autumn air. Finnish forest berries are small, but they have a lot of flavor. Ikea resently started selling cloudberry jam again; thank you Ikea! These rare and expensive Nordic berries grow on marsh lands which makes finding and picking them more challenging. I have also bought lingonberry jam from Ikea. It has never been my favourite berry, but goes well with some game foods and casseroles.
Here is a picture that makes every Finn living out of the country drool. Finnish stores carry lots and lots of candy and it is fairly cheap. And they sure are delicious! Unfortunately, most other chocolates gets thrown away at our house. We only eat Fazer chocolate from Finland and very few other brands from other countries. Finns love black liquorice and the most common way to buy candy is self-serve pick and mix. We don't buy a lot of candy for our house, but when ever we get guests from Finland, the list of treats we want is immediately emailed.