Family Culture Investigation
My family heritage lies in the Finland, the Nordic country known to most as to where Nokia was founded. My great-grandpa was born in Savonlinna, which is in lower western Finland, only 70 kilometres from the Russian border. It is part of the Karelia district, which is where Karjalanpiirakka’s originated were from, but more on that later!
The climate in Finland is very different to the Australian weather. Winter is the longest season and normally lasts between 105 to 120 days and up to 220 days in Lapland (northern Finland) 30 degrees is considered quite a high temperature for the summer. Finland is known sometimes as the land of the midnight sun because in summer, the sun sometimes shines all day and all night. This is flipped in winter when mid north Finland may go for weeks without sunshine.
The harsh temperatures affect the type of produce that is available to the Finns. Most of the dishes that my survey takers said were made of very basic ingredients: Potatoes, flour, egg, butter and rice. Most vegetables are imported from more southern European countries. The amount of water in Finland also affects the amount of fish and seafood that they eat, which many of my survey takes noted on.
Almost half of my survey takers said that Karjalanpiirakka’s was the food that best represented Finland. Karjalanpiirakka’s are pasties filled with thick rice that has absorbed a lot of milk. It is a great source of fibre and nutrition as well as being quite delicious with reindeer meat and other meats. In 2006 Karjalanpiirakka’s were given the EU’s Traditional Specialty Guaranteed Label. They are sometimes known as Karelian Pasties because they originated from the Karelia district (figure 1) that as I mentioned before is where my great-grandpa was born.
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 250 ml (1 cup) glutinous short-grained Rice
- 1 liter (4 cups) milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 400 ml (1 1/2 cups) fine Rye flour
- 150 ml (1/2 cup) all-purpose white flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) water
- 50 g (3 tbsp.) butter
- 100 ml (6 tbsp.) milk
Egg and butter spread
- 100 g (6 tbsp.) butter
- 3 hard-boiled Eggs
- 50 ml (3 tbsp.) chopped parsley
- Place the water and butter in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir in the rice.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the milk and stir until boiling. Simmer for about 50 minutes, until the rice is done. Season with salt and set aside to cool.
- Combine the flours, salt and water. Knead into a dough.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 2 mm (1/12") thick.
- Using a cutter, cut the dough into 8 cm (3 1/4") diameter circles.
- Roll the circles into thin wrappers. A pasta machine can also be used. Use flour to help in the rolling.
- Fill the wrappers with a thin layer of the rice mixture. Fold over 1 cm (3/8") of each side to create an edge and pinch the edges.
- Bake the pasties in a 150° C (300° F) oven for 15-20 minutes. Brush with the butter and milk mixture. Cover with waxed paper and a kitchen towel to soften.
- Serve hot with egg and butter spread.
In conclusion, my family’s culture is barely known in Australia or any other countries out side of Europe and hasn’t really affected the food culture at all. You would be hard pressed to find anywhere that stocks Finnish food except IKEA. There is one restaurant in Sydney that specialises in Northern European food but if you want to experience some Finnish food, the best way is to make it yourself at home! It has however been influenced by the other Nordic and Scandinavian countries. The Finnish food culture is important to the Finns but is not very well known or preserved, as some of my survey takers seem to think.