In Western Uusimaa region, a delicious meal is prepared with fresh fish, potatoes and wild herbs. Western Uusimaa was the home of Finland’s first potato farmers and potatoes are the main ingredient of regional dish Inkoo porridge.
A look back in history
Throughout its history, Finnish cuisine has been influenced by both eastern and western traditions. In the prehistoric age, Finland had two main human settlements: one in the east, near Lake Ladoga, and another in the west, in the Turku-Kokemäki area. The regions had minimal contact with each other, therefore two independent cuisines were formed.
In the east, food was oven-prepared due to the common home architecture in eastern Finland where every house had a large masonry oven that was used for cooking, as well as for heating the house. In the gentle heat of the oven, different pies, pasties, casseroles and stews were slowly cooked. In eastern Finnish homes fresh bread was baked every week, whereas in the west, bread was baked in large quantities a couple of times a year. Instead of the oven, the western homes preferred cooking on open fires with a cauldron. Seafood and soups were commonly cooked. Because of the different cooking styles, the east was called ’oven food area’ and the west ’soup food area’.
Traditionally Finns lived in subsistence economy. Food was prepared from the ingredients that were available on a given season. The necessity to cook from the available ingredients formed Finnish regional delicacies. The differences between different regions have diminished during the time, but regions still cherish their own traditional dishes with great pride.
Influences from other parts of Finland as well as neighbouring countries
Uusimaa region has a very versatile cuisine. Influence from different parts of Finland came with migration. Historically Uusimaa has had tight connections to Southwest Finland region as well as Tavastia and Southern Karelia.
Manor houses had an important role in adapting new traditions. What the gentry served in their dinner tables, soon become a part of normal diet among ordinary people too. The manor houses looked especially at Swedish traditions, and adapted new ways of farming and preparing food from there. Indeed manor houses in Uusimaa were the first in Finland to grow vegetables in conservatories. The country’s first potatoes were grown in Fagervik manor house in Inkoo.
Marine climate has also played a part in the formation of southern Uusimaa’s food traditions. Sea brought living for many. Fresh fish was preserved by salting or drying. On the rocky coasts of Uusimaa one could find wild herbs such as chive which was used to add flavour to foods. Potatoes went well with fish, and formed an important part of the diet.
When it was time to celebrate, Uusimaa homes served herring salad, different cheeses, meat jelly, veal roll as well as local fish and potato dishes.
Inkoo porridge is a potato porridge with a spoonful of butter
Inkoo porridge is one of the traditional foods of southern Uusimaa. The filling porridge is prepared by cooking potatoes in salted water. The softened potatoes are mashed and mixed with flour. Hot porridge is best enjoyed with cold milk and a spoonful of butter. See below for the recipe and find more weird and wonderful Finnish dishes on the map.
1 kg of floury potatoes
0.5 litre milk
60 g wheat or barley flour
1. Cook the potatoes in unsalted water. Pour the water out, keeping it to one side. Mash the potatoes well. Add the milk and some of the collected potato water. Continue to add more liquids so that the mixture becomes soup thin. Bring to the boil and add the flour so that you get a pulpy mixture. Cook until flour is absorbed. Season with salt and enjoy with butter.
More recipes on Flavours of Finland map:
Flavours of Finland by ExpediaFI
Text: Iiris Lagus
Sources: ruokatieto.fi (also the recipe), inkoo.fi