How to Sauna Like a Finn

How to Sauna Like a Finn

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good massage. Or facial, or pedicure, or just about any other form of pampering you can imagine. Except for Thai massages. Those aren’t pampering. Those are torture. A few years ago however, my love for massage was overthrown for a love of something bigger, something badder, something… steamy. The sauna.

In 2008, I had a unique opportunity to visit two friends of mine who live in the only place that’s colder than Canada (okay, not the only, but certainly one of): Finland. The three of us met while on exchange in Toulouse, France and bonded after realizing we all had French dictionaries propped front and center on our desks. At the end of 6 months, it was clear, we were destined to be friends for life.

After nearly 2 years of not seeing each other, I decided to make Finland the first stop of my European travels. I was coming in from India and was ecstatic for some quality time spent in formidable company. I arrived just in time for white nights, which meant no matter the time of day, the sun was out and the sky was simply stunning.

Finnish White Nights, Sauna

Continue reading “How to Sauna Like a Finn”

Street Eats, Helsinki, Finland: Reindeer Meatballs or Lake Fish?

Street Eats, Helsinki, Finland: Reindeer Meatballs or Lake Fish?

Welcome back to Street Eats, our delicious (and sometimes disgusting) series where we discover street food from around the world! Today, we pay a visit to Helsinki, Finland, a Scandinavian city worth discovering, if only for an afternoon, or two. With quaint little cafes lining the Esplanadi, an assortment of great fashion boutiques including the nation’s most famous designer, Marimekko, a dashing white cathedral (Evangelical Lutheran), and a lovely waterfront, the city offers tourists the chance to kick back their heels and just breathe easy.

In terms of culinary delights, Helsinki isn’t world famous for it’s cuisine, but does boast a number of yummy restaurants including the Fazer Bakery (offering up an incredible breakfast for 11 Euros and tantalizing treats for those looking to fuel up in between attractions) and regional delicacies like karelian pies, a Finnish treat with a rye bread base, a gooey rice or potato middle and a buttery egg topping that I’ve made more than once at home. Le yum!

You had me at Vendace?

When it comes to street eats, market square (kauppatori) is where you’ll find the largest variety of samplers. Among the local faves are Vendace, a type of fish known as muikku in Finnish. Salty, crunchy, fried little fish, these guys are sold as street food and packaged like American french fries, ready to pop!

image credit: Sirkku
image credit: Sirkku

Not for the lighthearted, these little fish are served whole and are something fish lovers simply have to try. The rest of us will have to resort to what gets my vote as  the epitome of Finnish cuisine… Continue reading “Street Eats, Helsinki, Finland: Reindeer Meatballs or Lake Fish?”