Local delicacies

The four seasons and local specialities create a colourful display across the markets of Finland.

In Tampere, for example, they sell hot black sausages, in Finnish (mustamakkara) and lingonberry sauce; in Turku, rusinamakkara, or raisin sausages, while in Pori in the autumn, fresh grilled river lampreys are sold in the market square. 

The traditions of pasty-making in Finland come from the east.

In Savo, for instance, the kalakukko, a Finnish fish pasty, is a traditional dish, best bought fresh from the market squares in Kuopio.

The kalakukko pasty is a plump round loaf of rye bread crust filled with slices of fish and pork, and baked slowly in an oven.

Another popular variety of pasty is the Karelian rice pasty, karjalanpiirakka, which originates in Northern Karelia.

A thin rye dough crust is filled with rice pudding, and served warm with butter.

The shape of the pasty, as a tourist once pointed out, resembles a moccasin!

These pasties are hugely popular and sold in every supermarket.

As many Finns will say, rye bread is for the locals what spinach is for Popeye.

Rye bread, whether a loaf of bread or a circular-shaped one with a hole in the middle, is traditionally made of sourdough to which only water, salt and flour are added.

Incidentally, the reason for the hole in the middle of some loaves is that people used hang them to dry on poles that stretched across the ceiling.

The mild sour tang typical of Finnish rye bread results from lactic fermentation and it has been used to flavour Finn crisps, thin and crispy rye breads baked with sourdough that are now a successful export product. 

In southwestern Finland and in the archipelago offshore, sour-sweet breads and malted breads are a speciality.

There is also a black bread, called saaristolaisleipä; it is also found in northern parts of Finland, where blood may be added to produce a local variety of the recipe. 

Some Finnish breads are more like cakes.

Pulla, a very popular Finnish bun, is usually enjoyed with coffee. Then there are cinnamon cakes, twists and rings (korvapuusti).

And pies too filled with seasonal produce: in winter with curd cheese, in spring with rhubarb, in summer with fresh berries, and in autumn with apples.

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