While studying the course Well-being from Blue Spaces, I got very attracted to food tourism. Gastronomy tourism is a very interesting way of getting to know the destination and its culture. If we sit a bit and just imagine for example how Finland or Finnish culture tastes like? How would it taste to each of you?
For myself I imagine the taste of a grilled sausage, coffee, and ryebread. And if I imagine where I could have these foods it would probably be some really quiet place in the nature – a forest near the river where mushrooms, blueberries and cranberries grow, a forest where I hear birds singing and the sound of the wind that touches the trees.
For the Well-being from Blue Spaces course we did a food route assignment. I chose to make a route in Satakunta and searched all kinds of information about special foods in the region. As I am from Estonia, of course I was thinking that the most typical food for Satakunta would probably be karjalanpiirakka or salmiakki, but my research showed that karjalanpiirakka has nothing in common with Satakunta and well salmiakki is a favourite treat to nearly every Finn.
Personally, I was surprised after my research to see that Satakunta is the most suitable place for sea buckthorn to grow because of a colder climate in Satakunta. I have lived in Finland for six years and only now I realise why sea buckthorn is so popular in Satakunta – well, because this is the region where it grows in Finland, and it is a speciality of the place.
The second surprising news that I found showed that a long time ago, back in the past, Satakunta was very rich with salmon fish and every single family in Satakunta had salmon on their everyday table. That historical fact was a big surprise for me, maybe because now it is very expensive to buy salmon from the shop because usually it is pretty hard to catch it and because there are just few places in Finland that have salmon in the waters. If we take a look at what kind of salmon shops are selling here, it is usually salmon from Norway, and it is rare to be able to buy Finnish salmon.
How to understand Finnish food culture?
Overall, after all my research and thinking about food culture in Satakunta I got an idea for my assignment that was not only about food. If you want to understand Satakunta culture, especially its food, you have to taste that food somewhere in the nature and have it cooked in the way it was cooked back in the past or cooked by yourself.
It is impossible to understand Finnish food if you do not have any experience of Finnish nature. Finnish nature gives that special feeling and taste to the food that is the experience people should search for when they are visiting Finland. There is something special about Finnish nature and food, it is that calmness that you feel while being somewhere in the forest, listening to the place, eating berries from the bushes, drinking coffee and for example grilling sausages. No wonder Finnish people always say that sausage cooked in the nature tastes better than one cooked inside the house!
Text and pictures: Aleksandra Dmitrijeva, second year International Tourism Management student