Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finnish Cultural Assimilation # 23.6 - Decoding Finnish Potato Bags

If you have recently moved to Finland you will have noticed that most Finnish supermarkets carry a wide variety of potatoes. They are either sold loose or prepackaged in color-coded plastic bags.

If you don't speak Finnish yet you may have a hard time cracking the code which determines which bag of potatoes is most suitable for your purposes. With a bit of work on your part, this lesson will assist you with all of your potato shopping needs.

There is a Finnish standard potato bag color code which is in use by Finnish grocery retailers. The colors used in this system are green, yellow, and red.

Chart describing (In Finnish and Swedish) the 3 basic Finnish potato categories

Potatoes found in a green bag are kiinteä, in other words, they are more firm. This basically means that they have less starch than the potatoes that are packaged in yellow or red bags. Potatoes classified as kiinteä are suitable for salads, boiling, for use in soups where you would like them to keep from breaking down, and also for pan frying. You can also use them in casseroles and they can be grated and fried if you want to make hash browns. Popular varieties of kiinteä potatoes in Finland are Siikli, Hankkijan Timo, and Nicola.

Potatoes found in the red bag are jauhoinen, which means that they are less firm than kiinteä potatoes when cooked. They have a higher starch content, which makes them desirable to use when preparing mashed potatoes,puréed soups, and baked potatoes. They also work well for baking recipes that require potatoes. Popular varieties of jauhoinen potatoes sold in Finland are Pito, Puikula, and Rosamunda.

Potatoes in the yellow bag are described in Finnish as Yleisperuna, meaning that they are a good potato for general use. They have a higher starch content than kiinteä, but not as high as jauhoinen potatoes have. They can be boiled, used in soups, casseroles, and baked as wedges. They can also be used for hashbrowns and baked potatoes. Common yleisperuna varieties in Finland are Van Gogh, Amazone, and Matilda.

Finnish Cultural Assimilation Lesson # 39

Yet another installment in my series of lessons for those who wish to be assimilated into Finnish culture, or merely wish to try and understand the modern Finnish soul.

Viidestoista yö (the 15th night)

Juice Leskinen, often described as the "Bob Dylan of Finland" was a prolific poet and songwriter. As the result of a poll in 2004 he was ranked 38th of the 100 Greatest Finns. Fifteenth Night is but one of his many great songs, apparently written after a 14 day drinking binge. Juice passed away in 2006.

My unpoetic translation of a bit of Viidestoista Yö:

1st verse
In my eyes, the look of a lost orphan-a child that's lost its way
The remnants of your love make my chest ache
The darkness hits me like a squadron of bombers
And I don't even ask at what price.

I watch the world with you
and I see the same dream
Like a madman I cry out after your love.
I curl up in your arms
and if you let me I'll spend the night
and when morning comes I won't know where I am.

Vanhojapoikia Viiksekkäitä (old bachelors with whiskers)
(don't let the unfortunate wardrobe choices made by the background singers affect your enjoyment of this song...)

Juha Vainio composed over 100 songs, as well as wrote and or translated lyrics for nearly 2000 more which have been recorded by various Finnish artists.
Old Bachelors with whiskers is one of his very own. It tells the story of Nestori Miikulainen, an old bachelor destined to live his life alone on a windblown island on Lake Saimaa. An old Saimaa seal sympathizes with Nestori, they are both a dying breed.

Again, an unpoetic translation on my part.

On an island on Lake Saimaa is a tenant farmer's plot
Nestori Miikulainen sits on the steps
playing a harmonica and a Saimaa seal
rises to the surface splashing
Below the waves it heads towards the musician
because the melody is really familiar.
The song tells of how it feels to be alone
and the seal understands that well.

Nestori never had a wedding
the world lured away his bride.
Old bachelors with whiskers
is what they both are.

Polkabilly Rebels - Sun kloorin kloorin halleluuja!

I caught the Polkabilly Rebels show at Lutakko at the end of October. This song was the final encore:

The song is originally an American-Finnish song which J. Karjalainen rescued from obscurity. It was among the tunes that Lomax collected that can be found in the Library of Congressf collections.

I managed to interview J. Karjalainen before the show. Once the interview is published in the New World Finn next month I will put it up here also.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kaamos/Arctic night

It's that time of year. If it isn't kind of dark outside, it's really dark. And the darkness will only be increasing over the next few weeks. One way to make it through this unfortunate reality of subarctic life is to stay active. Exercise really does help. Here is a post I did a few years back featuring an excellent place to get some physical activity in Jyväskylä:

When you find yourself at approximately 62°N in the middle of December, afternoons look like this:

University of Jyväskylä 16.December.2008. 3:15 pm

Thankfully, at least in Jyväskylä, we have this option:

AaltoAlvari, our local swimming hall. Swimming pools,wave pool,current pool,jacuzzi,ice pool,mens and womens saunas,gym. A little exercise goes a long way during kaamos.

AaltoAlvari is open from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekends. Morning swim (Mon -Fri from 6a.m - 10 p.m.)admission is 5€ for adults, 3,50€ for students, senior citizens, and the unemployed, 3€ for children ages 4 - 16. Otherwise the prices are 7€ for adults, 5€ for students, seniors, and the unemployed.

The AaltoAlvari swimming hall is located here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tourulan kuvataiteilijoiden avoimet ovet / Artists of Tourula Open Studio Day

A reminder for those of you in the Jyväskylä area:

On Saturday November 13th, the visual artists of Tourula will be having an "open doors day". This is your chance to check out the studios and work of ten different artists, myself included.

The doors will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Please stop by and check us out.

Our studios are located on the 2nd floor at Kivääritehtaankatu 8A.

Näytä suurempi kartta

Saturday, November 6, 2010

myskikurpitsa / butternut squash

I really like to eat squash in the fall and winter. I've had a hard time finding proper winter squash here in Jyväskylä over the past few years. I have found pumpkins of various varieties, but squash like acorn and butternut are what I have been craving. This year I grew my own acorn squash on my city allotment.

The other day I was walking by Katriinan Kauppa when I noticed these beautiful butternut squash in the window:

I walked right in and bought squash by the armload. Butternut squash can be prepared and enjoyed in a variety of ways. I prefer to bake my squash and serve with salt, pepper, butter, and brown sugar.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Lappitappi (Lapland peg) is a dry sausage made by Kylmänen. It is made from a blend of reindeer, red deer,horse meat, and pork. Nicely seasoned, not too terribly greasy.