Luckily, we had eaten before we came to the announcement of the Finnish National dish, held at the Nordic Travel Fair at Messukeskus on Thursday morning.
During the summer and autumn 2016, almost 50,000 people around Finland participated in the voting for the national food, and over 10,000 people gave a total of more than 1,000 different suggestions as to what the Finnish national dish should be. Among the ideas were the classics: Karelian stew, reindeer with mashed potatoes and fried fish.
The jury, formed of experts in the food industry, then selected the 12 most popular ideas of domestic food treasures: pizza, pea soup, rye bread, mämmi (Finnish dessert made of water, rye flour and malted rye), fish soup, viili (kind of yoghurt), Karelian pasty, blueberry pasty, muikku (small fish), pickled raw fish, Karelian stew and liver casserole. Pizza? A surprise. Mämmi? Definitely. Karelian stew? My favourite.
And the winner is: RYE BREAD! But why did almost 10,000 people vote for ruisleipä, the Finnish word for rye bread, as the Finnish national dish? Rye bread is made of domestic ingredients, it’s healthy (and often gluten free), its recipe is improved all the time and it has a long tradition in Finnish history (“pitkät juuret historiassamme” = “long roots in our history).
As a non-Finn, my favourite topping to spruce up a slice of rye bread is salmon; but cheese and ham with a few slices of cucumber is just as delicious. I’m off to the supermarket to get some fresh rye bread. Hyvää ruokahalua – enjoy!