We definitely did end up seeing some snow on our week-long trip to Finland. We saw some on our way up to Oulu:
and quite a bit when we drove back this past Saturday:
Interestingly enough, no snow fell where we were actually staying, only in areas that were further south! Pretty much the opposite of what we expected.
When we arrived at J’s parents’ place, his mother had a Finnish classic waiting for us– Janssonin kiusaus (Jansson’s temptation), a casserole of julienned potatoes, onions, and sardines (or sprats). It’s good, simple comfort food. We’ve made it at home a few times, but ours always tastes different from the one his mom made– I think it all depends on what kind of canned fish you use.
It was served with pickled beets and pickle slices, and was good and filling after a day of just snacking in the car.
It’s kind of funny– I’ve been to Finland so many times now that I wondered if I had run out of new things to try. It would be such a bummer not to discover something new on this trip! As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. A few evenings into our trip, J’s mother announced that our first course for dinner would be rössypottu, a dish popular in the Oulu region.
She had only made a little bit, I think because she thought I might not like it– it’s a stew with potatoes, bits of pork, and cubes of blood pudding (the brown stuff in the picture). I know that would creep out a lot of people, but since I’m a fan of Estonian blood sausage, it didn’t bother me at all, and I gladly finished off my bowl. Very simple, but very good if you appreciate the taste of that one particular ingredient :-). And I love that J’s mom goes out of her way to make things for me that I haven’t tried before! Even though my conversations with his parents can still be awkward because of my shaky command of Finnish, they definitely understand how much I like food.
For dessert there was lappapuuro, which is also a popular dessert in Estonia (where it’s called mannavaht). It’s made of lingonberries (or juice), sugar, and farina. Once that combination is cooked and cooled, it’s whipped to incorporate air into it and turn it from porridge to fluff. 🙂
Even though I’d had this dessert before, J’s mother’s was so much better because she used actual berries instead of just juice, so the berry flavor was strong and tart. The tartness is mellowed a bit by a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of cream added on top. The smooth, fluffy texture makes it fun to eat.
Viili was something I’d heard J’s family talk about on past trips but I’d never tried it, so I picked up a cup (strawberry flavor) from the grocery store. It’s a yogurt-like dairy product, so I figured I’d like it.
Unfortunately… not so much. The taste was fine– mild, not too sweet or too sour. But I couldn’t get over the texture. For lack of a better word, it was goopy– sort of liquidy and rubbery at the same time. The Wikipedia entry says it better: “It has a ropy, gelatinous consistency.” I only ate a little bit and tossed the rest, but hey, now I know! Luckily there are still tons of other tasty dairy products in Finland for me to enjoy.
Be back with more tomorrow!