Time to say goodbye to the family before leaving for the unknown, for unknown period of time.
I left to Kuopio, and to our summer house in Vaajasalo, on the last day of August, which is also the last day of summer.
The summer is over, since syyskuu (September) means fall month. I was wearing 3 layers of clothes and, well, it was not too hot.
On Saturday I went blueberry picking and had baked a pie before 10 am. In the evening we had a crayfish party, which is an annual fall time fest specially popular among the Swedish Finnish people and in the west coast of Finland. My cousin works in one of the fanciest restaurants in Finland, where the price per crayfish is 12€. My brother ate probably 40 crayfish alone – thank God our food came from local (cray)fishermen!
Sunday was rainy and too much like the crappy fall that I am running away from to Japan. I went to my grandparents’ place, and the plan was to go berry picking on Monday. Due to constant rain, the plans changed to baking and munching comfort food and the berries my grandparents had already picked.
If I had more self-discipline, I probably could take some of our bakings with me to Japan. Knowing myself, there will be nothing left by next weekend. At least I’ll have memories!
Ps. I also “dropped my winter fur” (swam for the first time this year) on the first day of fall this year! The combination of sauna and icy lake is something special, for sure. At first I was being a sissy, but then the sisu took over.
My brother is currently in the Utti jaegaer regimen, which is probably the hardest and most challenging army training in Finland. He’s running up and down the hills, swamps and the hardest terroirs with 30kg backpack and gear in for 12 hours a day, standing in form for 3 hours straight after that, and God knows what else. Men throwing up and passing out is not bizarre, and their minds are constantly tested with encouragements to leave the service.
This Saturday the 44 jaegaers of this year gave their military vows. After marching, parade, few hyms and walking around with flags the platoons showcased their weapons, gear and had a demo of skydiving jumps (the jaegaers jumped off a bench, rolled on the ground and were rewarded with push-ups if the rolling wasn’t done in proper manner). I had not seen my brother since before he started his training in June, so I was rather anxious to get to measure his biceps and punch him in the stomach to see how hard his pecks were.
The soldiers got to go on their weekend holiday at exactly 2 pm, even though we were done eating (pea soup and pancake with strawberry jam, the every Thursday-tradition on a Saturday) after 12.30. So, we waited and waited, then finally got to take our soldier home for 2 days.
Back in New York, I came across something different military-wise. I wonder how these conditions would work today.
When our family gets together, it always happens around the table. Usually, the table is filled with some of the traditional delicacies my grandmother (pictured) masters. This time we were treated to the best-known local delicacy of Kuopio, Savo, where my family originally comes from.
Traditionally, Kalakukko (Fish Rooster, rooster deriving from the old word kukkaro which means purse) is made of one sort of fish: vendance, lax or perch, layered on rye dough base with pork. The rye dough is then used to cover the stuffing, and the purse is put into the oven overnight. Kalakukko can be enjoyed warm or cold, and the crust also tastes good with butter.
The rest of the family enjoyed their kalakukko the traditional way, but mine was made without meat – in stead, it had rutabaga and carrots in the filling. I prefer my kalakukko this way, without the lard and with some freshness! The kalakukko was so good I could have eaten it all at once!
Usually people buy their Kalakukko from the central market square in Kuopio, or from some of the country markets that are around Finland. This dish is a bit expensive, the price per kilo is easily from 15 to 30 euros, probably because it is hand-made. When making the Kalakukko yourself, it takes a lot of patience and caution, since you have to make sure that the crust doesn’t leak the stuffing. Baking the Kalakukko in the right temperature for the right time takes skills that you learn by time. I would not dare to make Kalakukko myself, but I have had few rather successful attempts together with my mother.
People from Savo region in Eastern Finland have a funny dialect and a quirky sense of humor. I am proud of my Savonian roots even though I have lived my whole life in the Western Häme region, and my dialect is far from my grandparents’. It is fun to visit Kuopio, and hear how people talk totally different from what I hear in my daily live. It is also interesting to hear my mother talk on the phone to her sisters or parents – she somehow subconsciously always changes the way she speaks when speaking to someone in Kuopio.