Under the title “Taste of Finland”, Finland’s Ambassador to Cairo, Laura Kansikas-Debraise, last week held a special event to promote healthy and functional food from Finland, during which guests were able to taste famous items of Finnish cuisine. The event was sponsored by Finnish companies Valio, Finn Spring, Polar Glucan and Roberts. An innovative menu was prepared by award-winning Finnish Chef Arto Rastas who came to Egypt specifically for this occasion.
The event was attended by prominent Egyptian chefs among whom were Maggie Habib who is also UN Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses (IYP), Sally Fouad, and Mustafa al-Refaee; as well as a number of Arab media professionals, diplomats and representatives of Egyptian companies that import high quality food.
The Finnish Ambassador said: “Some people may be surprised why Finland’s embassy holds a special day to serve Finnish food. This is the first time we hold such an event in Egypt. There is high demand these days to know about the culture of food in every society. Especially by those who are subject to follow a specific diet. Since we have a lot of research on food free of industrial substances and preservatives, sugars and fats; we will taste some of these foods today.”
The ambassador said that, during his visit to Egypt, Chef Rastas has cooked famous Finnish dishes in well-viewed cooking programmes on TV satellite channels, including Panorama Food with Chef Sarah Abdel-Salam and CBC Sofra with Ghada Tali.
“Finland is famous for many things, but it is not famous for its food. We at the Finnish embassy want to change this concept, and this is why we hold this event,” said Deputy Ambassador Krista. She added: “As most of you know that Finland is located in the far north of Europe, a difficult geographic location with many challenges which Finns have worked to turn into advantages. We have taken advantage of the extreme cold weather that affected all aspects of our lives, including food and spices.
“One of the most important challenges for food in Finland is that the soil, atmosphere and water are very cold. So our farmers use far less chemicals than usual, and for this reason the food tastes delicious. Finnish food is among the healthiest,” she said.
Chef Rastas expressed happiness for being in Egypt and participating in this event. He said he had himself brought all the food and spices he needed from Finland and has been cooking for two days especially for this ceremony. He described the menu items, beginning with a Greek salad covered by crispy oatmeal. He said that Finnish cuisine uses numerous vegetables; his second plate included roast beet, various types of Finnish cheese, oats, and mayonnaise.
“In Finland,” Chef Rastas said, “rice isn’t a favourite item, but we love potatoes, so we have a salad of small potatoes with red onions and cucumbers. One of the most famous foods in Finland is salmon, and you will have the chance today to taste it. It is served with cranberries and barley, and there is a famous salad in Finland containing cherries and cranberries.” He added that smoking was a favourite cooking method in Finland, so one of the dishes was smoked chicken and oven-roasted carrots with honey and herbs.
A plate of meat cooked with cherries and tartar sauce was served, together with barley bread and Finnish butter.
For dessert, there was cheese with cherry jam, Finnish pies with cherries, lemon pudding with honeycomb, and pudding with roasted oatmeal. There was also a cranberry juice rich in vitamins.
Finnish cuisine has a long tradition of serving game and wild birds in addition to fish that comes from more than 300,000 natural lakes. The Finns hunt reindeer, ducks, and rabbits and serve them in variety of ways. Arctic wild fruits are distinguished in Finnish cuisine with their strong flavour and high nutritional content.
16 July 2018