Eat The World

195 Countries

Cardamom Buns and more! January 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:58 am

In the book Culture Shock! Finland, I came across this personal story, “In the States, an elderly woman saw me sitting on a bench and said to me “Your shoes are so cute! I was taken aback and thought she was so rude. Why should this complete stranger have the right to make value judgements about my dress, and why should she think I’d care? After all, I liked my shoes (that’s why I was wearing them) and why should anyone else’s comments matter to me?” I think I would get along well in this culture.

 

According to the lady who wrote this book in 2001, Finns like to keep to themselves and think privacy is important. Apparently they don’t like small talk and don’t smile much or meet people’s eyes. Here’s a joke from the same book. “Juha meets Johanna at a dance. They leave together and he says, ‘Your place or mine?’ She replies, ‘Why are you talking so much?'”

 

Some other very Finnish things – a majority of them have cabins that they go to on holiday. Just about everyone has a sauna. A sauna is a wooden room that is heated up to a dry heat of about 160-170F. To encourage good circulation they beat themselves or others with small branches. When the heat gets to be too much, the best option is to go outside, cut a hole in the ice and jump in for a quick swim. Then you can go back in the sauna!

 

A short history of Finland is that people moved into the area when the glaciers receded from the last ice age around 8500 BCE. In the modern era, the country has been largely dominated by Sweden to west and Russia to the east. Finland was under the Swedish monarchy for about 600 years. In the 1800s they were conquered by the Russian empire. At that time Russian rule was still the tsars. During this time, there were a number of nationalistic movements by the Finns. When the Socialist Revolution happened in 1917 in Russia, the Finns decided that they had enough. They definitely didn’t want their country run by the Soviets. Luckily due to the unrest in the USSR, the Finns were able to fight and win their freedom. So essentially Finland is a very young country with a long history. What makes them very interesting is for so much of their history, the Finns were the lower class people in their own country. That must influence their national identity even to today. According the Culture Shock! book, they have a good relationship with the Swedes but still don’t really care for the Russians.

 

So on to the food! I made a couple different things this week. Last Sunday I made Laskiaispulla which are sweet cardamom buns (pulla) with strawberry jam and whipped cream. I’ve always had trouble with yeasted foods rising enough but I think this recipe could be easily adapted for the dough setting with the bread machine. Here’s the recipe I used, the English version is at the bottom.

 

I would highly recommend this recipe if you were to make any from this series. For the ground cardamom, I visited Penzey’s Spices for the first time. I could spend way too much money there… It looked like a Pier One for spices. At any rate, they are not super sweet buns but I will increase the cardamom in them next time because I really love the flavor.

 

Laskiaispulla

Laskiaispulla

 

So how does mushy rice in a rye crust sound as a snack? I was a little worried about making this next item because honestly I thought it would be super bland or gross. Karelian pasties are a snack that’s popular in Karelia. Part of Karelia is now southeastern Finland, the remainder is the land around Lake Ladoga down to St. Petersburg in Russia. This dish is made with a rye crust. Rye is one of the more common grains in Scandinavia and Russia. The crust is rolled very thin and then rice cooked in milk until it is like a rice pudding is dished onto the crust. The crust is pinched up and the pasties are baked until the crust is crunchy. Then the pasties are eaten with hardboiled egg mixed with butter. Finns really love their dairy. Surprisingly, these things are very tasty!

 

Karelian Pasties

Karelian Pasties

They are quite small, only about palm sized. In the bottom picture, the left is without egg and the right is with egg. Here’s the recipe. They are very easy to make!

 

The last item I made this week is a blueberry pie. I don’t think this recipe is necessarily authentically Finnish but it was delicious and literally took me 10 minutes to throw together. This recipe is completely out of season because berry pies would usually be made when the fruit is in season during the summer. However, the weather was horrible here in Indiana so a summer pie sounded very nice. Plus I had frozen berries in the fridge! Finland has a large variety of berries. Foraging is also protected under law so any Finn can go out berry picking or mushroom picking just about anywhere! Some of the many berry varieties grown in Finland include: cloudberries, bilberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and lingonberries. I would LOVE to taste a cloudberry but I don’t know where to get them in Indiana! Surprisingly, there are no Scandinavian groceries in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky or Ohio. But if I ever made it up to Minnesota where there is a large population of Swedes, I could probably find some there!

 

Blueberry pie

 

Looks like a mess but was very delicious! The crust is more cookie like – not a flaky crust.

 

Well that’s all for this week. I only have 2 recipes left and then I need to move on from Finland. I’ve been really enjoying the food! I hope you get a chance to try some of these recipes. They have all been delicious!

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Back at blogging and Finland! January 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Emily @ 12:59 am

This past year was incredibly busy for me! I didn’t have a lot of time to cook dinner so I had to take a break from blogging for a little bit. The New Year encouraged me to start back up on the food trail. For a little more variety I decided to randomize the countries as well as take more time with them. I’m going to spend a month with each country and read their literature, try multiple recipes and just try to understand more about them. This project will takes years! or until I get bored.

My favorite tool in this journey is Pinterest! You can follow my World Foods board where I will be putting up interesting looking recipes I find from around the internet.

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By a roll of the dice, I got Finland for January. As a country that extends quite deeply into the arctic circle, it seemed fitting to be cooking Finnish recipes in the winter. I have always been interested in Finland. From an early age, my mom would tell me stories about a Finnish exchange student her family hosted when she was in high school. He is a doctor now and speaks a dozen languages. Studying languages has always been a passion of mine and when I attended the University of Washington for linguistics I learned about the origins of the Finnish language. Finnish is not actually related to more than a couple other languages (like Estonian). Swedish and Norwegian are Germanic languages and not at all close to Finnish. It is also one of the harder languages to learn.

Since Finland is located in the arctic circle in the summer around the solstice there is no night. Yep, 24 hours of sunlight. Conversely around the winter solstice there are days of only darkness. Finland is a republic and the majority of Finns are Lutheran. The capitol and largest city is Helsinki. Finland shares land borders with Norway, Sweden, and Russia and is across a relatively small sea from Estonia. Norway, Sweden and Russia have a very dominant history in the region and much of Finland’s history has been greatly influenced by its neighbors. I’m currently reading some books on the history of the region and will report back!

Famous Finnish people and things include:

  • Linus Torvalds – creator of Linux
  • Jean Sibelius – composer of Finlandia
  • Eero Saarinen – architect
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen – another famous architect
  • Actual home of Santa Claus
  • Lapland
  • Angry Birds phone app
  • Nokia – cell phone company
  • Apocalyptica – 3 words – metal band + cello
  • Darude – DJ – everyone knows this song
  • salty licorice

Lots of cool things come from Finland except the last – salty licorice – which I’m thinking is similar to natto in Japan or vegemite in Australia. The locals love em, the rest of us hate em.

As I was looking for recipes I came across an interesting article about how the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Finnish food was awful. I figured that was an auspicious start to this project. Many countries don’t have quite as much of a culinary history as France or Italy but good eats can be found in every part of the world.

Popular foods in Finland include rye bread, dill, loads of different kinds of fresh berries in the summer, all kinds of fish, meat pasties, cardamom breads, fresh dairy products and Finnish meatballs (similar/same as Swedish meatballs). Normally I’ll post once a week but I’m a bit behind. You get two dishes this time! While rye bread is probably the most famous Finnish food, I don’t really like it so I probably won’t make it.

A few dishes really stood out for me as 1. edible, 2. interesting looking. The first is a nod to the long border with Russia! Blini with smoked salmon (I did not make the pierogi in the picture).

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Blinis are a yeasted buckwheat pancake. The recipe I used was from the Joy of Cooking. They are traditionally served with smoked salmon – either plain or gravlax – with sour cream and dill. Normally this is served as an appetizer but I think it makes a delicious meal with pierogi! The dish was great but I miss Pacific Northwest smoked salmon. So much better than Indiana supermarket variety!

Week two was Lohikeitto which is a chowdery potato and salmon soup. This dish was delicious and will be moving into my recipe file.

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This dish made a good dinner and even better leftovers! Chunk your salmon small and don’t over cook it!  The oat crackers she posts in the blog link above look like a perfect match with the soup but we just ate the soup without biscuits.

Sometime on Sunday I will be making cardamom buns with strawberry filling (Laskiaispulla). The next two week’s dishes include Karelian pasties, blueberry pie, Janssons frestesle and Runeberg’s torte. Key to being satisfied cooking different cultures – also try their desserts!

Here’s some teasers!

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Sure looks like there are plenty of tasty things to try in Finland!

If you would like to read along with me as I learn more about Finland, try these books:

  • Culture shock! Finland: a survival guide to customs and etiquette
  • Finland, cultural lone wolf – Richard Lewis
  • The healer – Antti Tuomainen – fiction
  • The history of Finland – Jason Lavery
  • The Kalevala – compiled by Elias Lonnrot
  • Sibelius – Andrew Barnett
  • The year of the hare – Arto Paasilinna – fiction
  • A brief history of the Vikings – Jonathan Clements
  • A history of Scandinavia – T.K. Derry
  • A frozen hell: the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940 – William Trotter

See you later! Or as they say in Finland: nähdään pian!