There's a reason you've never seen this sentence before.
To prepare myself for the food options in Scandinavia, I spent some time perusing the grocery section of Ikea. I knew this was going to be the most difficult part of the world for me to find appetizing food.
With specialties like reindeer meat (you read that right), vendace (sardine/smelt-like fish prepared fried whole), herring prepared in hundreds of ways, tar-flavored ice cream and a specialty called cloudberries that tastes nothing like clouds nor berries, Finland is a challenge for me.
But since this is a part of why I travel, I had to try out a few. Here is the photographic evidence:
Reindeer meat is everywhere. I did not try this one, but I’m told it tastes less gamey than venison (OH, you thought it was one of the same? Nope. There are real-life reindeers. Let that sink in).
On this menu, cured horse meat. Please forgive me for passing on this one, too.
I regretted not trying the vendace on my first trip to Helsinki. Now I have no regrets… but I won’t be rushing back here to eat these. I had to fight the mental image of chewing fish bones and tails — and smothering it in garlic sauce certainly helped. I had to eat a donut after this just to settle my stomach.
Tar-flavored ice cream, although a favorite of the Finns, tastes like you’re chewing remnants from a fireplace. Not for me — unless you top it with marshmallow, graham crackers and chocolate. Someone put that recommendation forward.
My favorite meal was at a place called Zator in Helsinki, that was set up like a farm house. The salmon here is incredible and definitely on the (very short) list of recommendations.
And also on that short list, let me introduce you to the "Long Drink." Think Mike's Lemonade meets carbonated water - a sort of vodka spritzer that comes in flavors like lime, cranberry and grapefruit. Delicious. And dangerous. And only found in Finland and Estonia unfortunately.
And that concludes the food report from Finland.