Greetings from eastern Finland, where we have been blissfully spending the past few days experiencing what it is to be Finnish at its best: sweating in a traditional sauna, swimming in a pristine lake halfway over the Russian border, eating tender, new potatoes fresh from the earth and decadent black forest cake made with fresh cream and ruby red strawberries, drinking strong coffee and crisp apple cider, snuggling with sheep that are friendly as dogs, and most surprisingly, singing karaoke songs under a midnight sun. Not to mention, fabulous conversation, laughter, and lots of pesky mosquitoes. Yes... unfortunately every garden has at least one snake lurking in the leaves.
Suffice it to say, all the things our hostess had promised have been delivered in full. I met Hanna in Mumbai, where we developed a friendship over the months that has blossomed into this trip. We spent much of our time together there talking about Finland in the summertime while enjoying the perks of my posh condo in the communal steam room... that was used more by the two of us than all the Indian residents in the entire complex. Naturally, the dreamy steam reminded her of her homeland, especially the summers. Her stories of swimming, cider, sauna, and other peaceful, blissful activities transported me to a place very different than Mumbai. And here we are!
We arrived on midsummer eve, just in time for one of the biggest Finnish holiday weekends. Along with a group of friends and family, we drove out to the Finnish/Russian border to one of the 180,000(!) lakes in this lovely, underpopulated country, our rental car full of games, groceries, and good moods. It was a lovely weekend...
And we visited Hanna's parents, who live a life so photogenic and idyllic that I could barely believe my eyes. I just kept running around, photographing everything I saw, which made those sweet people laugh in puzzlement (although I imagine they know exactly how gorgeous their charmed life really is). Irma, Hanna's mother, had baked a stunning gluten free black forest cake, with layers of chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream, pears, meringue, and strawberries. She gave me the recipe... here's the link. She replaced the gluten flour with gf flour.
If you don't speak Finnish, you'll need to filter it through a translator ;-)
Next post: cycling the archipelago, squeaky cheese, and other northern delights...