Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Serving it up at Manenberg Primary!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Food Spotlights: Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pies) and Puolukka (Lingonberries)

Moi ("Hello" in Finnish) from Helsinki!

[Swedish meatballs, Karelian pies, a lamb dish with anchovies ... incredible.]

I hope you are well, wherever you are in the world! I am doing quite well, coming off of my first authentic Finnish meal. I went with some friends to Konstan Molja last night, which is an all-you-can-eat Finnish buffet set in a maritime setting.

[Most Finns don't dress like this on a regular basis ;)]

As I was finishing my meal, it struck me that there are so many delicious foods abroad, why not put a spotlight on one or two while I am abroad? Well, here we go!

Karjalanpiirakka, aka Karelian Pies

Karjalanpiirakka, or the Karelian pie, is my first food spotlight of Finland. This pastry is a low-cost (0.23 euros at a Finnish supermarket), delicious, hardy snack. The inside cheese-like concoction is actually a buttery rice filling, and the outside crust is made from rye flour. Oftentimes, Finns will spread a layer of egg-butter, called munavoi, on top of the pie. Though the picture might make the pie's texture look stiff or tough, the inside filling is gooey and mashed-potatoey (new word, coined it!).

[Munavoi, or butter with chopped boiled eggs, goes atop the Karelian pie]

These pies are from the historical province of Karelia, which has a tumultuous history in regards to nationality; it has been a part of the Novrgorod Republic (a medieval Slavic state in the 12-15th centuries), only to be taken away by Sweden in the 1300s, to then be ceded to Russia in the 1700s. Parts of Karelia became a Finnish territory when Finland claimed independence in 1721, but only to be mostly ceded back to Russia in the Winter War (1940s). #imperialism

I am definitely going to miss these after leaving Finland, but am hoping Sweden will have them on hand :) If you are interested in making Karelian pies, see here for a recipe!

Puolukka, the beautiful Lingonberry

If you were to walk down to the Esplanadi, a major park and public market in downtown Helsinki, you would find dozens of market stalls selling thousands of lingonberries (shown above). These berries, which are similar to cranberries, are tart and pack a lot of flavor! The texture reminds me of those Boba/fruit caviar pearls that you see in American frozen yogurt bars - you bite down, and pop! A burst of tart-yet-sweet juice fills your mouth. :)

These are often put in meat dishes, such as reindeer or meatballs. Or you could be like me, and put them in everything hehe ;) You can also buy a lingonberry jam, or "puolukkahillo." Apparently, back in the day, lingonberries were also used as a simple, cheap remedy for scurvy.

[Reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberries]

Perhaps this post got your mouth watering for Finnish food - give these delicious foods a try when you have a free moment!

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