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?



The Linnanmäki amusement park in Helsinki

Some people ask us via Facebook: What to do in Helsinki? Finland’s capital is not only the main entrance point to the country, it is its biggest city too and therefore worth a visit. If you’re going to Helsinki and like to have fun – which I assume you do – read on: we’ll talk about Helsinki’s amusement park: Linnanmäki.

El Parque de atracciones de Helsinki
Down in the Linnanmäki theme park. Source (CC: by).

Linnanmäki’s attractions and opening times

This year’s new season has already begun at Linnanmäki (official page), as they open up in April each year. They close their doors again at the end of October – check the opening times here.

The Linnanmäki amusement park of Helsinki states that it has more attractions than any other park in the the Nordic (and Scandinavian) countries. If you want to check out what you would like to ride, this is the page to do so: probably you’ll find some equivalent of your favorite rides if you are a theme park aficionado.

Of course, the park is also apt for families, in case you visit Helsinki with the ones closest to you.

Linannmäki: a theme park in Helsinki
You’ve got a ticket to ride. Source (CC: by-sa)

The prices of Helsinki’s amusement park and directions how to get there

The entrance to this amusement park is already something amusing: it is free! You can go inside the park and take a walk for no cost, and you can also have fun watching the faces of the people currenty on the rides.

You will have to take out your wallet to ride an attraction though. Each separate ride costs approximately 8€ and the price for a full day of rides is 37€. You can also combine the day ticket with a SEA LIFE ticket and both will cost you 45€. These are, at least, the prices that they show on the English version of the website. The Finnish version has a myriad of ticket options (see them here, if you speak Finnish), like a special ticket for the last 3 opening hours or another day ticket for the next day for just 8€ more. Ask at the entrance of the Linannmäki for explanations in English if needed.

A good tip: Check out the Panorama sightseeing tower and experience Helsinki from 53 meters above the ground. This, alone, is worth visiting Linnanmäki: You get to see Finland’s capital scenery from the high ground… and is also free of charge.

The park at night
The park at night. Although if you visit it during the White Nights time you will see little darkness. Source (CC: by-sa)

The park’s address is the following: Tivolikuja 1, 3km from Helsinki’s centre. There are several options how to get there with public transport – check all the options here.

Linnanmäki also has some restaurants and live events. During recent years they were especially promoting some of their restaurants, where cooks who had 4 Michelin stars altogether were working at.

Have you already visited the amusement park of Linnanmäki? What’s your favorite attraction?



Finnish Bands: the top 10

How can I make a post about the top 10 Finnish bands? It is a herculean task and it will be polemic: Such a list will bring controversy.

In order to write something other than my own opinion, I asked for the opinion of Big in Finland’s friends on our Facebook page. In the comments of today’s post you can share your opinion too.

Here we list the top 10 Finish bands that you said were the best. They are mostly Finnish rock bands and metal bands. No indie or pop bands made the cut.

The top 10 Finnish bands, by the readers of Big in Finland

There were no rules when we did the Facebook post, so anyone who answered could vote for more than one band. The top 10 is as follows:

1. Nightwish: the band you voted the most. With or without their old vocalist, Tarja Turunen, Nightwish is the most beloved Finnish rock band by the friends of Big in Finland on Facebook.

Finnish bands: Nightwish.
Source (CC: by).

This is their most heard song on their label’s official Soundcloud account.

2. Sonata Arctica tied in votes with Nightwish, so they are as much the number one as the previous band. This Finnish metal band has been together since 1995 and is known worldwide as well.

Sonata Arctica - a Finnish metal band
Source (CC: by).

This is their most played song on their label’s SoundCloud account.

3. Apocalyptica: joining Finnish metal and cellos? The four members of Apocalyptica thought it was a great idea and started this musical adventure in 1992. They are classical music graduates from the Sibelius University of Helsinki.

Apocalyptica - one of the best Finnish bands
Source (CC: by-sa).

This is the most played Apocalyptica song on their official SoundCloud account.

4. Ensiferum play metal music with a folk twist. They are from the capital of Finland and they have been playing for 20 years, since 1995. They have five albums, and being number four in this list made by you means that their style really connects with people.

5. The Rasmus are, along with the number six of this list, one of the first Finnish bands that were recognized outside of Finland (or at least that was always my personal impression). Founded in 1994 and led by charismatic Lauri Ylönen, these Helsinkians have sold millions of records and broke thousands of hearts. Most likely, The Rasmus are one of the reasons why many people got to know – and got excited about – Finland.

6. HIM is another of the best known Finnish bands in the world. Like The Rasmus, they feature a lead singer that has captured the human blood pumps – a.k.a. hearts – of girls worldwide. His name, of course, is Ville Valo. Founded in 1991, HIM is a Finnish rock band that performs “gothic rock”, and has sold millions of records throughout the world too. Another Finnish bestseller.

7. Teräsbetoni is a heavy metal music band. Founded in 2002 – they are therefore one of the youngest bands in this list – their style is influenced by bands such as Manowar. The name of the band, translated from the Finnish language, means “reinforced concrete”. They published four albums so far.

8. Finntroll, founded in 1997, has brought together different music styles, which makes them quite unique. They fusioned folk, black and death Metal (two metal music variations that are quite extreme), and the humppa, a kind of Finnish polka.

9. Stratovarius are perhaps the oldest band in the list: they’ve been around since 1984 (as I’ve been too). Their style combines elements of classical music with a kind of melodic power metal. In their long career – quite successful as proven by the number of votes they got from the friends of Big in Finland – they have released 17 studio albums, four live albums and four “best of” albums.

10. Children of Bodom: We close the list with a band that borrows its name from the murders that took place at the Bodom Lake, in the 1960s. From 1993 onwards, these guys from Espoo – a city neighboring Helsinki – have published 10 albums so far.

We have to give a special mention to 69 Eyes, who tied in score with the previous three bands, but top 10 lists are like that: We have to choose.

The bands that didn’t make it into the top 10 list of Finnish bands, but had more than one vote, were the following: Rubik band, Apulanta, Uniklubi, Korpiklaani, Ahola, the very popular and “Eurovisive” Lordi, Turisas and Northern Kings.

Our post about Finnish music groups
This is the post we put up on Facebook about Finnish bands: “Come hear. Finland.”

The top 10 Finnish bands according to Google

There is a second (and perhaps more democratic) way to know the number of fans that the bands have.

I went on Google and checked how many people, worldwide, look up the names of these bands during an average month. After the results went in, I re-did the list and this is what it looks like. These are the most beloved Finnish bands worldwide:

1. Nightwish, with 368.000 monthly searches, is also the number one Finnish band worldwide. Congratulations for their good job!

2. HIM, with 165.000 monthly searches.

3. Apocalyptica with 110.000 searches per month. As we can see, two out of the three best bands according to the readers of Big in Finland are also the most popular worldwide.

4. Tarja Turunen, ex-singer of Nightwish, rides along the band’s fame to boost her solo career and scores 90.500 searches per month.

5. Lordi, the monsters, average 74.000 searches/month.

6. Children of Bodom: 60.500.

7. Sonata Arctica: 60.500 searches.

8. Stratovarius: 49.500 searches.

9. The Rasmus: 49.500 searches.

10. Korpiklaani close the list with 33.100 searches/month.

The data came in, and we reported it.

Which list do you agree most with? What are your favorite Finnish bands? Tell us in the comments!



Finnish swearwords – a list of profanities you shouldn’t know

Last week we had the day of the Finnish culture and Kalevala, and in a month or so (9th of April) there will be the day of the Finnish language. Let’s celebrate these days with some Finnish words – but some that are a bit polemic: swearwords in Finnish.

Some swearwords in Finnish
This porcupine swears a lot in Finnish: it is a character in a Finnish comic strip. This is the porcupine’s website. Source (CC: by-sa)

Swearwords in Finnish

We focus on profanities because we don’t want to focus on insults. Insults might be worth a separate post, but I am not sure if I’d do that because – goddammit – insulting people isn’t right (I haven’t decided yet: It is definitely one of the curiosities of Finland).

Sometimes when you are in a country with a different language than your own and you are not fluent in that language yet, something sudden happens that forces you to shout your country’s equivalent of “what the f*!”. And most likely the person you’re with (or yelling it at) won’t understand you, because it will have come out in your own language (as it has happened to me).

It is cool to score some sympathy points if you don’t speak Finnish or Swedish fluently. When the people you usually talk to in English hear, in a moment of surprise, you using one of these profanities, it will definitely generate a chuckle.

The three most used Finnish swearwords are the following.

The top 3 Finnish profanities

Vittu, Saatana, and Perkele are the three words that you will hear for sure when someone has to swear in Finnish.

Perkele: the most used Finnish swearwrod
Perrrrrrkele, rolling the “r”. One of the top 3 Finnish swearwords. Source (CC: by)

Vittu” can be directly translated to “pussy” or “cunt”. It is used to express frustration or to emphasize a sentence. It is heard a lot as voi vittu (with the meaning of “Oh, crap”), too. Some interesting combination with vittu is “Vittu, vituttaa niin vitusti” (Fuck this shit, I’m very angry), where you can see some Finnish declinations too.

Not all vittu is bad (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) and you can say things like “vitun iso” (“fucking great”), but it is mostly used for bad things. Another interesting thing: You can combine it with other swearwords in Finnish to form a super-swearword. For instance: vittusaatana and vittuperkele.

Saatana means literally “Satan”, since Finnish people – besides using swearwords about scatology and parts of the human body (as in most languages I know) – have the tendency to bring the devil into all this. With the same meaning as “saatana” the word helvetti (the hell) is used too and both of them can be combined in this way: saatanan helvetti. “Saatana” is, nonetheless, harsh.

Perkele is maybe my favorite of them all. It is used as an interjection to signify surprise (like “shit!”, or “fuck!”). It means more or less “the devil”. This story has a lot to do with Finnish mythology, as Perkele was one of the main gods of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. When Christian times arrived, in order to end paganism, they gave the Bible’s devil the name Perkele. An angel became the devil, and from there a swearword.

In any case, as you can see in this infographic, the use of the three main swearwords dwarfs the use of the rest.

Infographic about Finnish profanity and swearwords

If you want to use this infographic on your website, you can copy and paste this code.

<a href=&#34http://www.biginfinland.com&#34 title=&#34All about Finland in Big in Finland&#34><img src=&#34https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8682/16702651165_6a833eb46d_z.jpg&#34 alt=&#34Infographic about Swearwords in Finnish&#34 /></a>

Other profanities of the Finnish language

The Finns don’t survive on only three swearwords (but almost). Other less common profanities are not used very frequently by me and I must admit I know little more than the main ones (except maybe paska and heleveti, mentioned below), so I will just go ahead and borrow the ones that I liked the most from the correspondent page of Wiki about this.

These are the ones I found most interesting:

Helvetti, translated as “the hell”, and yes: it is a swearword.

“Hitto” or “hiisi”. Not a very strong word, but also related to devils (although it is not THE devil). Its use is similar to the word “damn”. You can also tell someone to “painu hiiteen” (go to hell).

Huora: “Whore”. Not a lot of explanation needed here.

Kulli: a word for “penis”, but not very strong.

Kyrpä also basically translates to penis. “Cock” would be the best translation. It is much more offensive than the swearword above.

Mulkku is also “penis”, but used more like “prick”, to describe a person.

Molo, another synonym of “penis”, which happens to also be the word for “I’m cool” in Spanish. If we say “molopää”, we say “dickhead”.


Paska is another profanity in the Finnish language.
Paska means “shit” and is a somewhat strong Finnish swearword. My favorite encounter with this word was on the packaging of a coffee brand.

Perse is “ass” in Finnish. A less strong word than many others in this post, but deserving of a spot in the list. You can say “Tämä on perseestä”, which would mean “This is shit!” (literally “this comes out of the ass!”).

Runkata is like “wanking”. “Runkkari” and “runkku”, that derive from it, would mean “wanker”.

Listen to these swearwords in Finnish

There are a couple of Youtube vids that bring the words to life in a very interesting way, but I have chosen the following one because the person doing it really went the extra mile. He also does something that lots of Finns do: concatenate many short profanities into a long one.

If you are curios about the video that I didn’t include, here it is: 21 minutes of swearwords in Finnish with English explanations.

How many of the profanities of the list did you know? What’s your favorite swearword, in Finnish or any other language?




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