i suppose this should be viewed as an introductory food entry. we havent been here very long, so seasonal treats and regional delicacies are relatively unknown to us. but this is what we know of the food so far.
food/meals, in general:
-items are extremely well labeled for people with food allergies. i cant recommend the country highly enough for that.
-for breakfast, they seem to eat porridges (oat, rye, rice, etc) and/or cold open faced meat/cheese sandwiches. veggies, fruits.
-for lunch, there is always a wheat bread and rye bread option, and the amount of grown adults ive seen drinking milk (possibly whole milk) is staggering. these people are dairy consumers! there is also always a watered down red berry juice drink option. dessert doesnt seem to be a major factor (at least for lunch), maybe because they have sweet breads when they have their coffee breaks (twice a day it seems).
-thursdays are (for whatever reason) traditionally pea soup days for lunch. usually afterward a pancake with jam is consumed.
grocery store differences:
-vanilla sugar is WAY common. i dont see many nuts or nut butter (or its WAY expensive). there are lots of deli meat options, oatmeal/porridge varieties, yogurt options (tart, sweet, super sweet, and other weird yogurt cousins, see "speciality items" below), oat-based dairy-free choices, lactose-free products. they sell bouillion cubes instead of boxes of soup broth. i see many juice options have probiotics in them...why?
-things that are NOT easily found in the regular grocery stores here: cumin, brown sugar (at least as we know it in the US), maple syrup, ziploc-style bags.
-the produce area. fairly standard, but you get to choose which company/country (from about three) will be your banana/orange/apple supplier. herbs are sold in mini pots, so they are still alive-ish when you take them home.
-the meat area. i dont really see things like chicken wings or boneless thighs here, just various sized chunks of breast meat (seriously it looks like they hack it up in to random different sizes).
-dairyland. compared to the US there isnt a huge selection of shredded cheese, but there are tons of choices for bricks of cheese. maybe people grate their own as needed? as for yogurt area...there is a flow from drinkable yogurt to the typical yogurt cups we see in the u.s. interspersed with lactose-free cow milk choices, to the oat-based "yogurts" and soy yogurts, it then blends to more sweet puddings, and then into this stuff called "viili" (a kind of yogurt that is made from fermented milk, it has the consistency of snot, which i know is not appealing). the yogurt area continues on to include the more plain/tart options as well as the lovely "rahka" which translates to "quark" but the quark i knew in canada at least was always savory, this stuff is like yogurt dessert mousse and it is so tasty.
-canned goods. there are tons of jarred/canned exotic mushrooms, a sparse choice of canned beans, and a disturbing amount of canned pineapple.
-condiments. we are back on the continent of REAL dijon mustard [yes!] and their mayonnaise here is often in tubes? actually, an expat friend said that mayo makes finns very nervous because if it hasnt been refrigerated properly they get freaked that it could make them sick. they are very wary of it.
specialty/local food items (tasted so far):
-karelian pasties. from the region (karelia) that is technically a part of russia but heavy in finnish history/culture, these are a thin rye crust filled with rice. a typical topping is butter mixed with hardboiled egg. they are quite bland, but have lots of potential for adapting as you like.
-pulla (generically this means "sweet bread"). these could be sweet cardamom buns, cinnamon buns, or even doughnuts (ones with a bright pink icing and raspberry filling are popular, called "berliininmunkki").
-berries. they LOVE berries here, because their climate grows mountains of the wee things. ones weve never heard of before. weve only really, knowingly tried cloudberries, lingonberries, and buckthorn berries, though i think there are other ones out there that are still foreign to us. of course the strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and currants are familiar to us, though a bit tarter than the north american kinds.
-kiisseli. seriously unsure about how to describe this one. i think only children must really favor this, though its really not that sweet. its strange. a sort of starched fruit soup. not bad, just weird.
-salty licorice (salmiakki). whats not to like, its described as 'a variety of licorice flavored with ammonium chloride. ammonium chloride gives salty licorice an astringent, salty taste (hence the name), which has been described as "tongue-numbing" and "almost-stinging"'. peh. although dave says its growing on him.
-marjakeitto (berry soup). still not sure who eats this when, but its sold in the juice aisle. i think when ive encountered it ive mixed it in to my oatmeal, which is very likely not the "right" way.
-runeberg torte. a wee cardomom sponge cake soaked in orange-y liquor with raspberry jam on top and icing. its only available in late january and early february in honor of the poet who was said to eat them for breakfast everyday.