Finnish Cuisine: a thorough overview on video

Some time ago we saw how star chef Gordon Ramsay tasted traditional Finnish food. He didn’t like what he tasted but, unlike him, the readers of Big in Finland did like these parts of the Finnish cuisine. Ramsay, as always, brought in the polemic: Some people said that he has no manners, or that he barely put the food in his mouth before criticizing it and spitting it out. the common opinion was that you don’t judge Finnish cuisine like that.

I like Ramsay, though. I see a perfectionist that demands the same of others, or at least no fluff. He can also be a good mentor, as you can see in Master Chef. In any case, I understand that he’s a person not liked by everyone.

When I put his video on our Facebook page, a reader pointed me to another one that also deals with Finnish cuisine: an episode of Bizarre Foods about Finland and its most bizarre foods, with Andrew Zimmern.

Recording an episode of Bizarre Foods
Andrew Zimmern recording an episode of his show. Source (CC: by-nd)

I started to watch it and, indeed, it is a great overview of the whole spectrum of Finnish gastronomy. From family recipes of almost uninhabited islands to a visit to Finland’s top chef Hans Valamaki, from Chef Dominique. His restaurant used to be the only one in Helsinki with two Michelin Stars, but it was closed due to the chef’s lost love with the business side of having a restaurant.

All Finnish cuisine in a single video

The following videos of the Bizarre Foods chapter deal with Finland and its food. The episode is cut into three smaller videos and, above each video, I tell you what’s in it. In almost all the segments and dishes we can see an ever-present ingredient in Finnish food: potatoes.

The first segment about the Finnish cuisine, Andrew Zimmern tastes…

  • Blood pie (he really enjoys showing us how it is prepared)
  • Salmiakki
  • Lamprey
  • Herring on tar sauce
  • Bear

In the second segment, we see:

  • How to feed bears
  • Seal
  • Herring and salmon leftovers (head, tail, bones) soup
  • Reindeer milk (around 120 Euros/litre, he says, and with a fatty and sweet flavor that stays in the mouth)
  • Reindeer meat (liver, tongue, top round, medallions of the reindeer’s leg)

In the last segment chef Hans Valamaki, the former owner of the only Finnish restaurant with two Michelín Stars, Chef Dominique, prepares:

  • Reindeer tartar
  • Reindeer with the moss that it eats (mixing different ingredients that relate to each other in nature – as in here with the reindeer and the moss that it eats – it is one of the novelties of the new Nordic Cuisine and thus of the Finnish Cuisine)
  • Reindeer with poisonous wild mushrooms (cooked twice until all the toxins are gone)
  • Crayfish, served at a crayfish party

After this, Andrew Zimmern vistis Jarmo Pitkanen, from the Tundra restaurant in Ruka Kuusamo (in Lapland, the north of Finland) who serves him:

  • White fish with a sauté of zucchini, chanterelle mushrooms, new potatoes and sauce hollandaise

Finally, in the forest with other locals, he tries:

  • Birch tree bark (and they take some birch branches to hit each other in the sauna)
  • Cloudberry
  • Leippajusto (“cheese bread”)
  • A just-fished perch, that they proceed to smoke

What is missing for me in this video about the Finnish Cuisine? Maybe he should have traveled to Karelia as well, and tried the most Finnish dish of them all: the Karjalanpasti (Karelian stew), and of course the Karelian pie.

Did these videos about the Finnish cuisine make you hungry? What did you like the most from the videos, and what else should he have shown?

I've been writing about Finland for 8 years. In these articles I am trying to transmit my passion for Finland, its marvelous nature and cities, its people and the culture of the country. Thanks for reading!