Prepared with love and dedication. This is the essence of traditional food in Kainuu. We have always appreciated simple food that brings out the pure ingredients acquired from the rich nature of the area.
Game with strong flavours, tasty fish, delicious berries and mushrooms. These things are what the local cuisine has always been about. These simple ingredients are still the basis of local every day food as well as festive food.
-We have always been familiar with harsh conditions and poverty. That is why food has always been respected. The ingredients are simple, even modest, but the food is always prepared with time and dedication. That is the secret of local flavours, says Johanna Numminen, chairman of Sotkamon Martat. The best known traditional food in Kainuu must be rönttönen, a round “pie”, made of rye dough filled with a porridge made of semolina and lingonberries.
Rönttönen mixes savoury and sweet flavours. Another local favourite is bread-like cheese curd. Nowadays it is baked in an electric oven, but traditionally it has been made on open fire in a fireplace. The best bread-like chees curd is made of real cow’s milk, but rumour has it that whole milk from the store with added rennet can also be used.
Bread-like cheese curd is eaten with coffee either as such or in pieces softened in a cup of coffee. At more festive occasions it is eaten with cloudberry jam.
Bread and berries make a meal
Bread has always been the centrepiece of Kainuu cuisine, literally – in practise bread has always been placed at the centre of the table.
-For me the most local bread in Kainuu is a thin bread made of simple ingredients, says Numminen.
– A Finnish fish pastry is traditionally an open pastry in Kainuu. A closed pastry is usually filled with turnips. Another tradition in Kainuu has been thickening soups with barley or rye flour. That is why soups have been called gruels. For example, meat soup has been called meat gruel.
Berries have also been an important part of the cuisine in Kainuu, and berries have been eaten at almost every meal.
-Picking berries is very popular here, and it is always a topic of heated discussion in the autumn. Lingonberry is the number one berry, and it is always a bit of a crisis when there is a shortage of lingonberries.