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The Republic of Finland is a Nordic country situated east of Sweden. With about 5,300,000 inhabitants it's the third largest of the countries in the region.
Finland shares many things with it's neighbours, among them are a great coastline which makes fish and seafood like herring, salmon and crayfish naturally popular.
Finnish cuisine is strongly dependent on wholemeal products such as rye, barley and oats. These are used to make for instance bread, pasties and pies. Finnish pasties like karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pasties are very popular in the country and originate from Russia. The pasties consist of rye-dough filled with semolina-porridge. The karjalanpiirakkas is often served with melted butter or "egg-butter" which is boiled eggs mashed together with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. Further on there is the lihapiirakka, a pasty which is filled with minced meat and onion. These are either baked in the oven or deep fried and then served with ketchup, mustard and sometimes raw onion.
The modern Finnish kitchen combines traditional hearty and rustic dishes 'kotiruoka' or home-made food, with a more modern diet influenced by European and American cuisine. Fish and meat has a prominent place, as well as vegetables, milk, berries and mushrooms. The trend though, is leaning towards more light and healthy food, as in the rest of the Nordic countries.
Examples of popular dishes or the earlier mentioned home-made food is for instance 'lihapullat', or Finnish meatballs. 'Graavilohi' is cured salmon, which has its own version in all of the Scandinavian and Nordic countries. Popular is also 'makkarra', or sausages, which for instance can be cooked on the hot stones in the sauna. Nakkimakkara or literary knock-sausage is popular and pretty much the same as wiener-sausage or frankfurter.
There is also many dishes that is shared between
the Swedish and Finnish kitchens. Makaronilaatikko is the Finnish version of
the Swedish Makaronipudding which is macaroni casserole, the Finnish version
contains minced meat, and the Swedish ham. Black pudding with lingon-berry sauce
is also common in the both countries.
The northern part of Finland, Lapland has earlier had a strong influence on the Finnish cuisine. Lapland is still seen as exotic and dishes like reindeer stew, cloudberries, 'poromakkara' or reindeer sausage, fresh salmon and even bear, though not very common is appreciated by many Finns.
At Christmas the Finns enjoys Joulupöytä, which is the traditional Christmas-table. At the Joulupöytä you may find ham, served with bread and mustard. You may also find dishes like rutabaga-casserole, carrot-casserole, potato-casserole, salmon, pickled herring, boiled potatoes, 'sillisalaati' or herring-salad, meatballs, sausages and rice porridge. At Easter you may encounter memma, a dessert made with rye-flour and syrup served together with milk or cream and caster sugar.
Finland also has a great beer tradition; the first brewery in Finland was Sinebrychoff which still today makes the brands Koff and Karhu. In addition to these there's also Lapin Kulta or Lapland's Gold as well as Olvi. All of these are very good and widely appreciated across Finland.