Food Culture and Tradition

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Finnish foods glossary and foods terms


Aamiainen: breakfast.

Besimarja: brambleberry liqueur.

Easter Mammi: a very old traditional Easter dish that is a baked pudding or a beverage depending on where it is served. Made from water and rye flour, molasses, orange peel, and raisins. The pudding version is traditionally baked and served in baskets.

Jaloviina: Finn brandy.

Kaalilaatikko: a supper casserole of shredded veal, cabbage, and whortleberries baked in layers.

Kalakukko: a dish of Karelian origin consisting of meat and fish (usually pork and herring or Muikko) baked inside a bread-dough crust for several hours. The resulting brown mixture is so well cooked that even the fish bones are indiscernible.

Kalja: mild non-alcoholic brew drunk like beer and prepared frequently in Finn homes.

Karjalan Piirakat: Karelian version of the filled noodle pastries or small filled yeast pastries known in Russia as Piroshki. The Finn version is filled with rice, potato, cheese, or meat, and the crust is made from rye flour.

Keitetty Muna: boiled egg.

Kesakeitto: a vegetable soup made with young sweet spring vegetables cooked together and finished with the addition of milk. A Finn spring favorite.

Lakka: Finn cloudberry liqueur.

Lanttulaatikko: a baked turnip casserole.

Lipeakala: Finn name for the Swedish Lutefisk, the dried salt cod given special preparation for Christmas Eve dinner. The cod is soaked in water for several days before being given a one day soaking in a lye-and-ashes solution. This is followed by seven more days of soaking in fresh water before the fish is finally poached and served with a white sauce.

Lounas: lunch.

Maksalaatikko: a slow-baked casserole of liver and rice.

Muikko: tiny freshwater fish that are eaten whole.

Mustaa Kahvia: black coffee.

Pahkinakakku: nut cake.

Paistetut Sienet: a dish of fried wild mushrooms.

Paivallinen: supper.

Pannukakku: the baked Finn pancake made from eggs, milk, and flour similar to the batter and puffed crisp appearance of the English Yorkshire pudding.

Piimaa: buttermilk.

Poronkieli: reindeer tongue.

Poronliha: smoked reindeer meat.

Pulla: such a favorite, that there is seldom a Finn home without it. Scented with cardamom, this moist yeast dough is shaped into a braid and then thickly sliced after baking. Served with breakfast coffee or as part of a “coffee table.” Leftover slices are oven-dried and eaten as rusks, dipped into coffee. These latter may be called Korppua. Sometimes sweetened with raisins.

Punajuuri Salaattia: cooked beet salad.

Puuroa: a bowl of cooked cereal such as rice, farina, or oats, served with milk. Finn favorite for lunch or dessert.

Rapuja or Rapu: the small freshwater crayfish served through the summer in Finland.

Sillisalaatti: herring salad, often including potatoes and hard-cooked eggs.

Sima: fermented lemon drink that is traditional for May Day.

Tallimestarin Kiisseli: a special dessert, literally “the stablemaster’s fruit compote,” it is a mixture of slightly sweetened stewed raspberries and red currants, served over toasted pound cake and garnished with whipped cream and jelly.

Tippaleipa: curlicues of thinly poured cruller batter, crisply fried and traditionally served with Sima for May Day

Viili Piima: clabbered milk.

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