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Lesson Transcript

Tiina: Hi everyone, I'm Tiina, and welcome back to FinnishPod101.com's All About series. This is lesson 7: Top 5 Finnish Foods. In this lesson, we’ll be talking about Finnish cuisine! Finns really love their food. The world of Finnish cuisine is absolutely huge, isn't it Reeta.
Reeta: It really is! It’s hard to summarize Finnish cuisine in just one lesson!
Tiina: And I think when most people try to think of Finnish food, they have trouble, because it’s not that well known.
Reeta: Hmm, that’s true to some extent, but it is really a shame because there are some super tasty dishes out there!
Tiina: Yeah, once you’ve eaten Finnish food, you’ll never forget its flavors and textures! We’ll talk about the most popular dishes in this lesson.
Reeta: So, maybe you shouldn’t listen to this on an empty stomach!
Tiina: But first, before we get into the food, we want to touch on the phrase you'll hear when you have a meal with Finns.
Reeta: First, it’s polite to wait until your host says olkaa hyvä, which is a formal way of saying “please go ahead”, before you start eating. It can be used for one person or for many people.
Tiina: Can you say that again please? What do we hear before the meal?
Reeta: Olkaa hyvä.
Tiina: Okay, so keep an ear out for this. Where shall we start?
Reeta: I’ve got the list of “Top 5 Finnish Foods”
Tiina: Sounds interesting! But who chose them?
Reeta: Well… actually, I did...!
Tiina: Really? Wow, well I’m curious to see what you’ve chosen! What’s the first food on the list?
( Drum roll ! )
Reeta: poronkäristys!
Tiina: Ah, yes, sautéed reindeer. This is a typical dish from northern Finland, or Lappi. It is usually served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. A mixture of many tastes!
Reeta: Yes, you can get get it almost everywhere in North, but in South it's a little bit more difficult to find. It's worth trying!
Tiina: Reindeer meat is nice – it tastes a little different to other forest animals like deer. So what’s the second food on the list?
Reeta: graavilohi!
Tiina: graavilohi - marinated salmon! I know, I know – you might think of smoked salmon, but this is a little different. It is marinated in herbs, and has a very nice flavor. This is good stuff!
Reeta: Yeah – it can be eaten on a top of a piece of bread, as a starter to a meal, or just together with the rest of the meal. Very nice!
Tiina: mm, it sure is! What’s next?
Reeta: Next is… ruisleipä. 
Tiina: Mmm, you’re making me hungry now! So Reeta, can you tell our listeners what ruisleipä is?
Reeta: It is "rye bread" in English. Finns eat a lot of types of bread, and rye bread is the most common type.
Tiina: Ah, yes, that’s right. You might be wondering – what’s the difference between rye bread and wheat bread? Well, rye bread is made with rye flour and has a dense texture. Its taste is a little bit bitter. Wheat bread, on the other hand, is made with wheat flour and is usually soft, and it has a slightly sweet taste.
Reeta: Yep, that sounds about right.
Tiina: So, what’s next, Reeta?
Reeta: lohikeitto is next on our list. This is the Finnish take on salmon soup.
Tiina: Yeah, salmon in general is a famous dish in Finland, right?
Reeta: Yes, you are right. Finns love salmon. Finnish lohikeitto usually has just a few ingredients in it. Usually it's potatoes, onion, salmon, and dill, the herb that is often used for fish seasoning.
Tiina: Sounds delicious!
Reeta: And last on our list is mustikkapiirakka!
Tiina: Ooh, yum! Tell us more about it.
Reeta: It is a blueberry pie, and homemade ones are usually made with blueberries picked straight from the Finnish woods.
Tiina: Mmm… I love mustikkapiirakka! One time when I had it, the dough was a little crunchy and the pie was just full of blueberries. My mouth was all blue after eating it.
Reeta: That does sound good! Tiina, are there any Finnish dishes that YOU recommend?
Tiina: Karjalanpiirakka – rye pastry filled with rice porridge. It is originally from Carelia, in Finnish Karjala, but nowadays it’s a famous food all over the country.
Reeta: Nice recommendation!
Tiina: Alright, now here’s another Top 5 list: The Top 5 Foods for the brave!
Reeta: Yes, the foods on this list require some bravery to try. What’s the first one?
Tiina: Salmiakki!
Reeta: This is "liquorice" in English. Actually, it is not a food but a candy, and Finns love it. It is usually hard and black in color!
Tiina: Oh yeah – well, it sounds like a unique candy.
Reeta: That’s right - Next is mämmi, which is a dish served during Easter in Finland. Tiina, can you tell our listeners what this dish is?
Tiina: Sure – it’s basically a dessert made of beer malt. It is black and a little bit sticky and...
Reeta: Oh that doesn’t sound appetizing!
Tiina: Well, Finns eat it together with milk or cream, and it actually has a pretty nice and soft taste. Just don’t think about what it looks like.
Reeta: Oh wow – this is definitely something for the brave. Some people might be surprised when they see these kinds of dishes!
Tiina: So what’s next?
Reeta: mustamakkara. This is a dish from a special region in Finland. A city called Tampere, in fact.
Tiina: This literally means "black sausage", and it is called black because, well, it's black. It is a Finnish blood sausage traditionally eaten with lingonberry jam. There is also some crushed rye in it, so the taste is a bit richer than normal sausages.
Reeta: It looks quite unique. And it's sometimes fried, so it's surely a good energy source.
Tiina: Yeah – but not all Finns like it because of how peculiar it is, but it is certainly worth a try.
Reeta: Well, I am sure that's going to be an interesting experience…
Tiina: Okay, now the next one might top the list for me. It’s kalakukko – a rye bread filled with fish, pork and bacon.
Reeta: Yeah, this is a typical food from the region of Kuopio. The fish it's usually filled with is either vendace (in Finnish muikku) or European perch (ahven).
Tiina: So what’s the last item on our list?
Reeta: This time, it’s not a food, but it’s a drink – a special type of milk called piimä.
Tiina: Oh, yeah, piimä. This means “sour milk” or “butter milk”. But how does it taste though?
Reeta: Piimä tastes like a bit like sour milk, and it is denser than milk. They say it's good for the stomach because it contains a lot of lactic acid bacteria.
Tiina: When is it normally drunk in Finland?
Reeta: Well, Finns drink it sometimes with their meal, or it can be drunk just on its own, especially if you have some stomach-ache.
Tiina: That sounds good. So it works the same way as some of those yoghurts available, am I right?
Reeta: Yeah – so it's a nice drink actually!
Tiina: Right, everyone should try it.
Reeta: Definitely!
Tiina:Okay, so there you have it. The Top 5 foods for the brave. If you’re feeling brave, give some of these a try! Finnish cuisine has a huge variety of food for you to try. You’re sure to find something you like! And that does it for our lesson on cuisine!
Reeta: And don’t forget the phrase you’ll hear before the meal.
Tiina: Olkaa hyvä- right? See you next time.
Reeta: Hei hei!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Which one would be your favorite, do you think?

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Friday at 08:22 PM
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Hei Erica,

Kiitos paljon for taking the time to leave us a comment. Salmon is one of my favorites as well! 😄

Let us know if you have any questions!

Kind regards,


Team FinnishPod101.com

Thursday at 11:13 PM
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"Finns love salmon"

I love salmon too..cooked or raw, ala sushi..I seem to be missing out..Most upsetting..

Tuesday at 12:38 PM
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Hello Corinna,

Thank you for posting about your food experiences in Finland.

Wow! It seems that you tasted many of our "delicacies". 😄

Not many visitors like mämmi or salmiakki, so, I am pleasantly surprised for your positive comment.

Mustamakkara is indeed the local food of Tampere. Some do like it but some don't. I personally did find it also interesting tasting food. 😄 You could taste Karelian "kalakukko" also, during your next visit. I personally love it.

Let us know if you have any question.



Team FinnishPod101.com

Sunday at 12:36 PM
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The first time I've commented in a long time. 😅 But I actually finally managed to visit Finland back in October, and I got to try some of these foods mentioned. 😄 Poronkäristys and karjalanpiirakka were definitely my favourites. Mämmi, salmiakki, and ruisleipä were pretty good, too. 😁 The friend I stayed with in Tampere also got me to try mustamakkara, which I thought was... interesting. 😅 Maybe it's an acquired taste. I'm planning on visiting her again this year, so I might give it another try.

Sunday at 04:44 PM
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Hello St and Iain,

Thank you both for your comments and thank you for sharing your experiences with Finnish food, Iain!

Yes, Karelian pie, Karjalanpiirakka with egg butter, muvanoi, is one of my favourites as well. 😄

Mustikkapiirakka is so delicious, St. 😄

Let us know if you have any question.



Team FinnishPod101.com

Friday at 08:56 PM
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I don't know which would be my favourite, but I fondly remember eating homemade karajalanpiirakka when I stayed for a few weeks with a family in Joensuu in the 1970s. They were very nice. We sometimes spread them with munavoi.

I also remember piimä, which we sometimes drank with meals. I wasn't so fond of it and usually opted for homemade sima or kalja. Kalja was nice and refreshing on a hot summer's day.

Friday at 01:44 AM
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mustikkapiirakka would be my favorite

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Saturday at 12:30 AM
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Hienoa Adolf! Hyvä! :thumbsup: :smile:


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Wednesday at 04:26 PM
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Hei Päivi:

no, mutta aion:smile:

( no, but i will

Pidän Deep Musta asia:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

( I like Deep Black thing

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:36 AM
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Haha, Adolf! Olet ihan oikeassa! :laughing:

You're totally correct!

Oletko koskaan maistanut mämmiä?

Have you ever tried mämmi?


Team FinnishPod101.com