Finland’s national food is rye bread
Rye bread was voted as Finland’s national food. In autumn 2016, close to 50,000 Finns gave their vote in a public call to find the national food of Finland. Close contenders for the top spot included Karelian hot pot, Karelian pasties, and fried fish with mashed potatoes.
Finland 100 centenary year celebrates rye bread
Close to 50,000 votes were casted in the vote for the national food of Finland. Rye bread was a clear winner by almost 10,000 votes. It was also the definite favourite of voters under 30. Other young people’s favourites included Karelian pasties, while those over 60 picked Karelian hot pot and fried vendace or Baltic herring with mashed potatoes as their ultimate Finnish dish. Bilberry pie was the favourite dessert of voters of all ages.
The vote confirmed the iconic position of rye bread in Finland. The work towards securing local raw material sourcing for Finnish rye products, a strong know-how of health benefits, and developing new era snack products predict a great future for rye in Finland. In addition to bread, rye is used in many Finnish speciality products: the Easter dessert mämmi, the traditional fish-filled bread loaf kalakukko, breaded fresh water fish, or rye whiskey, for instance.
Over thousand suggestions
In the first voting round in summer 2016, around 10 000 individuals submitted a total of more than 1,000 suggestions for the national food. A jury composed of food experts picked 12 Finnish food gems from these suggestions as the finalists: pizza, pea soup, rye bread, the Easter delicacy mämmi, fish soup, the fermented milk product viili, Karelian pasties, bilberry pie, fried vendace / Baltic herring / perch with potatoes, Karelian hot pot, cured fish, and liver casserole.
The winner was picked from the finalists in a new voting round at the end of 2016. Around 40 000 people gave their opinion, with a bit over a hundred of the votes arriving on a traditional postcard.
The jury’s task was to ensure that the finalists represent a wide range of Finnish food culture through different stories, ingredients, and preparation methods. The jury’s own pick was fish soup with its seasonal adaptability, always suitable to serve with rye bread.
The national food jury suggests that Finnish Culture Day (28th February), also known as Kalevala Day, would also be named as a day of food culture.
The vote for the national food of Finland was organised by the ELO Foundation for the Promotion of Finnish Food Culture, together with the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners MTK, and the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.