Updated: May 13
How many of you find yourself googling for typical foods to have in the place you are visiting? Probably quite a few of you, unless you don’t think that food is an important part of the traveling experience in which case you are not to be trusted.
This is also the case for me, but since I am a food fanatic in the sense that I simply enjoy tasting things and all of the things; I take this aspect of my traveling very seriously (as should you). Whenever I travel I always love exploring supermarkets and not just the supermarkets downtown where more tourists shop than locals, but whenever I’m a little bit out of the very center of the city I go into a food shop and explore. I have found out that every country’s supermarket smells different on top of having a completely different food selection even in today’s globalisation age, which is great for me and you!
So here I am with a supermarket guide for you in Helsinki!
If you are renting an Airbnb then finding a supermarket will be very easy, but if you’re not it won’t be difficult either as they’re everywhere. Just stay clear of the ones on Aleksanterin katu as those are very small and won’t have everything. Once you have found your place; be it "K-Supermarket", "S-market" or "Alepa" then you can begin with the shopping!
Let’s start with savoury. You MUST get rye bread as it is the national food here. Not too exciting, I know, but we do eat a lot of it. Get the "Resummies" kind and smother it with butter, cut up some cucumber and top it off with cheese. There you have it, a typical Finnish ‘Leipä’ or sandwich (in English). If you don’t eat animal product you can get Valio oddly good cheese slices!
After this you will want to get some freshly made karjalanpiirakka or if you want vegan ones they will have them in packages as well. If you are staying at an airbnb you can take the karjalanpiirakka home and make a typical spread we put on them. Boil some eggs and cut them up then just mix them in with butter and voila. Unfortunately if you are plant based vegan butter will have to suffice.
Next, we have the famous ‘lihapulla’, which means meat pastry. These are great also because they have an amazing plant based option called ‘Vihis’, which tastes exactly like the meat version (if not better). The photo on the left is another delicay - the Karjalan Pirakka (Karelian Pie). These are a wholemean pastry with usually a cheese, rice, or potato filling (or a combo). Recommended!
Let’s move on to the sweet stuff. Firstly, the two most amazing pastries you can get either from the bakery side of the supermarket or from the frozen aisle if you have an oven to warm them up in, are a Korvapuusti and aDdallaspulla. One word, AMAZING! Korvapuusti is a cinnamon and butter filled pastry sprinkled with sugar on top, while Dallaspulla is a pastry with sugary quark in the middle. (This photo!)
Make sure to enjoy these treats with some Finnish coffee. Finns drink the highest amount of coffee per capital in Europe - so we know how to roast it! You can find it under different names but all of the packages will say Paulig on them. Pick the one that suits your taste buds the best. My personal favourite is the Sydney, which is in a pink package.
Along with the pastries you can also taste some of the Finnish sweets. You can go straight for gold, which is the Finnish chocolate (best in the world in my humble opinion) called Fazer. Here is a photo of the most famour chocolate bar - the Fazer blue. They have numerous variations, some with salted liquorice, different fruits.. so again, pick the one you like and enjoy!
If you are feeling a little experimental then you can great a packet of salmiakki or Fazer chocolate with salmiakki filling (or any sweet that is flavoured like salmiakki, really). This is a sweet that is like liquorish, which is called lakritsa or laku in Finnish, but add salt to that and you get salmiakki. So enjoy? Hehe.
One thing that would fall under the snacks category would be blueberry soup. When you go to the shops you will find all sorts of berry soups, but the blueberry soup is the original stuff. When you make blueberry soup at home you would actually boil it and you could throw dough balls into the soup, which would cook up and soak up the sugary goodness (I’m not sure how it is considerate a soup…) or another way of having the soup would be just to drink, with is the easier way you can taste it.
I think you will get an idea of the Finnish flavour with this shopping list.
I hope you enjoy and that the images will help you find what it is you are looking for!