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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!