Food is a great way to learn more about the country you are visiting. Is it spicy? What kind of vegetables and fruits are used? Is the meat fried or steamed? What the local desserts are like?
We’ve recently been to Thailand, where for breakfast there were many options to choose from, but all were on a heavy side – fried rice, noodles with meat, soups, stir-fried meat with veggies. I got interested whether it’s just the hotel thing or is it really what locals would have for breakfast. Turned out that in Thailand there is no real distinction between breakfast and any other meals and it’s common to have all those dishes that I mentioned in the morning as well as in the lunch and dinner time.
I love Thai food with its endless variety of tastes and ingredients, but after 2 weeks I’ve been really missing my Finnish breakfasts 🙂 This is when I thought that if you are in Finland and about to start exploring Helsinki or some other city, you would probably get your breakfast first. And it’s already a great way to learn something about Finland.
Let’s find out what Finns eat for breakfast 🙂
Rye bread sandwiches
Rye bread is what you would call a 100% local food that is a very important part of everyday meals. It’s the most popular type of bread out of many produced in Finland (other popular types include oat bread, potato bread and barley bread). In 2017 Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence, and rye bread was voted Finland’s national food for the related celebrations. This type of bread is a part of culture and a part of Finnish identity.
Rye bread is made of sour dough and it’s quite tough. There are plenty of subtypes within the rye bread family, and you can choose the one you like more: round loaf limppu, round disc reikäleipä, portion sized ruispalat or the crisp näkkileipä.
Rye bread has a nice sour taste and it just perfectly fits the morning meal. You’ll probably see at the cafe shops rye bread sandwiches with ham, cheese and vegetables or with cold smoked salmon and dill. This is quite common types of breakfast sandwiches, but of course the variety you can get is endless – with boiled or scrambled eggs and veggies, with cheese and tomatoes, with cucumbers and reddish, with cottage cheese and berries. The only limit is your imagination 🙂
Mostly often it’s oat porridge with fruits and nuts, but some other variations are possible too. For example, rice porridge or cream of wheat.
Rice porridge also makes a special dessert that’s eaten as Christmas breakfast. It’s really delicious!
Porridge is very filling and very healthy breakfast option. As many Finns are starting work quite early (at 7.30-8am), porridge helps to live through lunch time (11am) with almost no snacks consumed in between 🙂
Yogurt or quark with berries
Although it sounds like a light breakfast, combined with lots of fruits and nuts or in combination with coffee and sandwich, it’s a perfect start of the day. Quark is a diary product that is almost like a cottage cheese, except it has a more liquid consistency. Like yogurt, you can find in a shop flavoured versions or you can get a basic one and add fruits and berries of your choice.
Although yogurt is something of a universal breakfast food in Europe, what makes Finnish version to stand out is that it goes together with Finnish berries like blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and lingonberry.
In Finland everyone can pick berries and mushrooms in the forest (Everyman’s right), so it’s quite common to pick berries during summer and froze them to consume later in a year. I found a last year article from the Finnish Forest Association, according to which 99% of Finnish forest could be certified as organic, so in addition to being fun, berry picking is safe too.
Coffee, coffee, coffee
Coffee is a glue to the day in Finland. You will have a chance to notice that locals drink a lot of coffee. As I mentioned in my post on Helsinki coffee festival, an average Finn consumes 12kg of coffee per year. Finns prefer to drink quite light blends, and there is a variety of local and international brands to choose from. If you are looking for an authentic experience, go with the Paulig’s Juhla Mokka. Finns also have a preference for a coffee machine. In most houses and cafes you’ll see the one and only Moccamaster machine. Juhla Mokka made in Moccamaster is the 100% Finnish experience. Have a cup and enjoy your day in Finland! 🙂