1. Local fish
Most restaurants located in the holiday destinations of Lapland serve local fish and the best thing is that often it´s fresh and caught nearby. Major rivers like the Tornionjoki and Tenojoki river provide good catches along with Lake Inarinjärvi which is the largest lake in Lapland. Dishes including white fish, brown trout, salmon and arctic char are definitely worth a try and fried vendace is another specialty; it´s a small salmon-related fish that is often served fried in butter with some mashed-potatoes and flavored sour-cream dip on the side. Local people love them and when travelling you should always expose yourself to local delicacies!
2. Sauteed reindeer
Don´t even talk about Lapland without mentioning sautéed reindeer; no other dish better represents the essence of Finnish cuisine. Usually served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam, it is a meal that is served everywhere and even Finnish public schools have it on their menu. It might sound somewhat unique or special but in Finland it´s pretty basic everyday food for many actually. All three of the main ingredients are what local food is all about; simple, tasty, nutritious and basically collected from the backyard almost! Everywhere in Lapland you will bump into reindeer wandering around and reindeer husbandry is still a major source of livelihood for thousands of people.
3. Mushrooms and berries
Traditionally local foods in Finland have very much relayed on meat and different fish but nowadays special diets are taken into notice more and vegan options can be found all around – literally found by yourself if you are in Lapland in the end of summer or autumn when the season for self-picked wild edibles is on. Bilberries, cloudberries and lingonberries are integral parts of Finnish cuisine and the use of gourmet mushrooms is on the rise. For some reason many mushrooms have been overlooked and even despised in the past, probably due to false beliefs created by some mushrooms being poisonous and some being used in ritualistic purposes. Both berries and mushrooms that grow in harsh conditions under the Midnight sun, have enormous amount of vitamins, nutrients and other compounds and way more compared to their relatives growing further down south – superfoods in the true sense of the word.
4. Lapin puikulaperuna
Lapin puikulaperuna (peruna is potato in Finnish) is a strain of potato that has been grown in Lapland for centuries and it is well adapted to the northern hemisphere. Before the introduction of potatoes to Finland in the 18th century, various turnips were very common in traditional cooking but potato being easier to grow, giving better harvests and being able to survive well in this rather rough climate, it soon spread out to the whole county. This elongated and long-shaped type of potato has a unique flavor and is often served oven-cooked or mashed. The puikulaperuna of Lapland is name-protected by the European Union, meaning that it always comes and is grown in the same geographical area.
5. Leipäjuusto (bread-cheese)
Leipäjuusto (bread-cheese) also known as Finnish squeaky cheese, is a Finnish fresh cheese traditionally made from cow’s beestings, rich milk from a cow that has recently calved. Reindeer or even goat milk can be used but commercially available versions are typically made from cow’s milk, and they lack some of the colour and flavour because of this. Often this cheese is served as a dessert with cloudberries and some type of sweet sauce. Local people used to have it with coffee, dipping and smashing tiny bits of it in a hot cup of coffee.
6. Minttukaakao (hot-chocolate with mint liqueur)
Nothing really traditional to Finland in this combination, but for some reason local people have truly embraced and adopted this drink and it´s especially popular during winter in skiing destinations all around Lapland. It must rub the tastebuds of Finns in some unique way. There is something about the combination of sweet chocolate and sturdy 40% mint liqueur and it sure does give a pleasant warm feeling, give it a try but please do consume with care and avoid excessive consumption. 🙂