Picture: Elina Sirparanta / Visit Finland
The most popular Finnish desserts are made of berries.
Many tourists have been charmed by the combination of cold, part-frozen cranberries covered with a hot caramel sauce.
Another distinctively Finnish dessert from the north is juustoleipä, or bread cheese.
It is usually warmed in the oven and topped with cloudberry jam.
Finnish pancakes are characteristically small, and served with strawberry or raspberry jam.
In summer, however, the lucky tourist may be invited to a party where they cook giant pancakes (muurinpohjaletut) in a large cast-iron pot outside in the garden.
Food for all seasons
Finnish cuisine also reflects the passage of the four seasons: cold, dark winters and long, warm summer days, the freshness of new spring growth and the abundant harvests of autumn combine in a rich variety of recipes and dishes.
A real delicacy in January is burbot roe, and blini, a kind of pancake, topped with whipped or sour cream and chopped onion.
During the blini season, several restaurants run blini theme weeks that take place for several weeks during January and February, depending on the restaurant.
Many people think a winter burbot soup is the best soup of the year, done with potatoes, melted butter and chopped onion.
Incidentally, the addition of milk or cream is characteristic of many Finnish fish soup recipes.
In February, it is very cold outside, so people eat rather heavy foods such as thick soups.
Curiously, pea soup has traditionally been eaten on Thursdays, and this dish is typically followed by pancakes with jam.
Pea soup and pancakes should also be eaten on Laskiaistiistai, or Shrove Tuesday.
5th February is Runeberg’s Day, which commemorates Finland’s national poet, Johan Ludwig Runeberg (1804–77).
The Finnish flag flies across the land and the little Runeberg sponge cakes are sold in confectioneries.