Cuisine of Finland is generally healthy, thanks in part to wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats) and berries (such as blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, and sea buckthorn). Traditionally families gather berries from forests in the autumn. Various turnips were common in older cooking, but these were largely supplanted by the potato when it was introduced in the 18th century.
Finnish cuisine combines traditional country fare and haute cuisine with modern continental style cooking. Spices have been adopted from West and East. Finnish cuisine is pleasing to the eye and the taste buds, and has something special for every month of the year.
Fish and meat play a prominent role in traditional Finnish dish from the western part of the country, while the dishes from the eastern part have traditionally included various vegetables and mushrooms, of which especially the latter were introduced to the dining tables of the western side as late as during World War Two by refugees from Karelia.
In the new Finnish kitchen, dishes are lighter, smaller, and generally contain several different vegetables. This mode of cooking is highly influenced by European and American cuisine.
These days, everyday meals of Finns do not differ much of those elsewhere in Europe . Popular dishes are spaghetti bolognese (especially schoolchildren, sometimes joked as the “national dish of Finland ”), hamburgers, pizza, salads (despite the lack of fresh vegetables). Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisine are becoming more popular especially among the fashion-conscious in the major cities.
In 2005, Finnish cuisine came under heavy fire from two leaders of countries renowned for their cuisine. The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed that "I've been to Finland and I had to endure the Finnish diet so I am in a position to make a comparison." Berlusconi started his anti Finnish food campaign in 2001. He went on: "The Finns don't even know what prosciutto is." This followed the initial decision by the European Commission to establish the European Food Safety Authority in Helsinki . On July 4, 2005 French President Jacques Chirac claimed that "After Finland , [ Britain is] the country with the worst food."
After Jacques Chirac`s and Silvio Berlusconi`s critique some international food reporters answered it:
Chirac and Berlusconi are wrong! Finnish cuisine is much more international than I expected. I have eaten very good food in wonderful restaurants, visited market places and enjoyed in good cafeterias. Cheese is very good in Finland . I also love Finnish cloudberry and smoked fish. (Ute Junker, Australian Financial Review Magazine, Sydney , Australia )
Food in Finnish restaurants is extremely good. Especially I love Finnish salmon, mushroom soup and desserts. I have also got very good Finnish wines. The worldwide reputation of Finnish cuisine isn´t very good - but it should be! (Liliane Delwasse, Le Figaro, Paris , France )
I have eaten only good food in Finland . Food in Finland is very fresh. Bread, berries, mushrooms and desserts are very delicious. Finnish berries (especially cloudberry), salmon, cheeses and reindeer should be available in London , too. (April Hutchinson, Abta Magazine, London , England )
A List of Finnish foods
- Karelian pasties
- Cabbage rolls (Kaalikääryleet)
- Karelian Stew/Hot Pot
- Baltic herring
- Reindeer stew
- Mashed potato
- Lihapullat – Finnish meatballs
- Hernekeitto – Peasoup
- Joulupöytä – Christmas board
- Mustamakkara – blood sausage
- Rye bread (Ruisleipä)
- Bark bread
- Maitorieska, milk flat bread
- Glögi – Mulled wine
- Jaloviina (cut brandy)
- Kilju (a beverage traditionally fermented without flavouring)
- Koskenkorva (famous vodka)
- Salmiakkikossu – a cocktail of koskenkorva and salmiakki
- Mead (Sima)
- Pontikka (Finnish moonshine)
- Sahti (traditional beer)
- Golden cloudberry dessert
- Fruit soups – a mixture of liquidised berries and potato flour, served with milk/cream and sugar
- Salmiakki (salt ammonium chloride candy)
- Panda liquorice
- Fazer Sininen milk chocolate