Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finding American Food Favorites in Finland

Americans are spoiled. When we travel or live abroad, we can see asects of our culture everywhere. There are American artists on the radio, American chain restaurants in every shopping center, and American products in every grocery store. Because of this, we sometimes have a hard time relating or feeling sympathetic toward other immigrants when they complain about the food in their new country. Granted, many of the immigrants I've encountered here in Finland have whined excessively, to the point where I sometimes want to ask them why they're even here if they're so unhappy, but everyone gets homesick sometimes, and I can't fault people for that.  In Finland, however, it can sometimes be hard to find specific "American" foods, especially if the person looking doesn't speak much Finnish, or doesn't know much about Finnish food culture. I've decided to put together a small list of products and ingredients, and where or how they can be obtained in Finland. This list is ever-growing, and I'll be sure to update it with new or better information as time goes on.

Disclaimer: I don't actively seek out American food. I live in Finland,  so I generally eat local. Finnish food is delicious and simple.

1. Kale

Kale is "lehtikaali" in Finnish. which translates literally to "leaf cabbage". It's not a very popular green here, and can sometimes be a pain to locate, especially if you live in a small town. In Pori, I've only ever found kale at Prisma and S-Market, both of which are owned by the S Group. If your local supermarket doesn't carry kale, I would suggest going to your town's Kauppahalli, or indoor market, finding a produce stall, and asking if the seller knows any local growers.

2. Quinoa

Quinoa is just that - quinoa. It's not popular here, and because of this, you'll likely only find it in organic food stores. However, I've yet to be in an organic food store in Finland that didn't sell it, so it is readily available.

3. Good Mexican food

MEXICAN FOOD IN FINLAND DOES EXIST.

Let's get one thing out of the way: Amarillo is terrible. Amarillo does not make authentic tex-Max, Mexican, or even American food. Many Finns love Amarillo, despite it being an over-priced. gimmicky, sad excuse for a restaurant, but I've yet to meet an American who had anything positive to say about the place. Sure, it's the only place in Pori where I can drunkenly devour mozzarella sticks at midnight, but they serve them with MAYONNAISE. In what universe does one dip mozzarella sticks in mayonnaise? And don't even get me started on their "burritos". But, I digress...

If you're fortunate(on unfortunate, depending on who you talk to) enough to live in or around Turku, then you'll want to check out a restaurant called Taco Nito. Taco Nito is a tiny and inexpensive Mexican restaurant ran by a couple of Finns with Mexican heritages. Their menu is small, offering up only 5 or 6 filling options for their tacos or burritos, but they're all delicious and inexpensive, averaging about €8 for a burrito. They've also got Sol 0.33 bottles for only €4.50, which is a steal.

In Helsinki, Eatos Mexican Diner is quite popular. The day I went to check out their lunch, there were no free tables and they'd already sold out of fish taco by 11:45. They've got nothing but positive reviews online, and their menu seems pretty authentic.

It's also worth noting that every ingredient needed to make a good Mexican-style dinner is readily available at most supermarkets.

4. Skittles

I've had a lot of people ask me about Skittles, and I don't really understand why. In any even, Little Britannia in Turku sells them, but they run out quite frequently.

5. Oreos

Finland has two major brands that are, essentially, Oreos: Domino and Dops. Neither brand can really compare, but they'll do the job. Little Britannia does sell real Oreos, but like with Skittles, they run out quite frequently.

6. Peanut butter

Peanut butter, or maapähkinävoi, isn't popular, but it does, in fact, exist. if you're brave enough to venture to your local Lidl, you'll find a sugary, vaguely-peanut-butter-like substance. For purists, many organic shops, and even Citymarket, sell more "real" versions. Vitacost also ships to Finland, and they have many varieties of peanut butter available.

Other resources:
Vitacost.com - Vitacost sells all kinds if grovery products, and they ship 90% if them to Finland for a reasonable price.
Finnish food glossary - Translations for almost any food one can imagine.

Remember to always support your local Kauppahalli and Kauppatori sellers!

3 comments:

Timo Riihiaho said...

A small tip for those living near Helsinki:

A small shop called Behnford's in the city center that specializes in food imported from the US and UK.

http://www.behnfords.fi/index.php?language=en

A bit pricey but you might find stuff that's hard to come by in your local supermarket.

They also have a webshop and delivery via Posti.

Valtteri Harakka said...

Umm you should think about moving to Helsinki. I can buy ALL of those products from my local supermarket.

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