The many flavours of a Finnish summer

What do you frequently eat when you move to a country known for its long winters? Ice cream, naturally.

The Finns are among the world’s highest per-capita consumers of ice cream. They enjoy it in the summer — when supermarkets clear out whole aisles for the stuff — but also through the winter. Almost every candy has been made into an ice cream, and it’s not uncommon to split a brick with office colleagues during a meeting.

I can only pronounce a few Finnish words well, but jäätelö (YAA-te-leuh) is one of them. I got to try a lot of new flavours in Finland, and each prompt happy memories.

My favourite, pear, reminds me of hanging out with friends at Kaviopuisto, a park overlooking the islands around Helsinki. A cone of vanilla self-serve smothered in sprinkles accompanied me on a boat tour of the Lake District near Kuopio. The strong taste of salmiakki (salted licorice) is best eaten slowly, like at a cottage after sauna.

The most exotic was flavour was tar. Yes, tar. Dubbed ”terva,” the substance used to coat boats and roofs, it tastes like a smokey caramel with a hint of pine. I first tried it in front of Turku’s medieval cathedral, and had it again last week as I showed a Canadian friend my temporary home.

I flew home last night, and I’m happy to be back in Toronto. But I already miss my friends and the quirkiness of Helsinki. Time to go grab a scoop of nostalgia.


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