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Saunawurst, The Finnish National Vegetable

Sometimes happiness lies in simple things. The same applies to food: when the milieu is right, you’ve got the appetite and have good friends around you, even the simplest of dishes can taste delicious (or palatable at least ;)

Atria Punainen Saunawurst

Lenkkimakkara or saunawurst is a Finnish specialty, a cheap overgrown link sausage with bologna-like consistency. Despite of its lack of pedigree, saunawurst is enjoyed by everybody regardless of age, sex or wealth. The best way to prepare saunawurst is to roast it over a live wood fire, often in a fireplace at home after sauna – thus the name – or in a camp fire. Some would say that one knows nothing about Finland without having tasted saunawurst. It is associated with memories of good food, good times spent together, everyday activities and leisurely moments.

When Finland joined the European Union in 1995, our belowed saunawurst got in the line of fire of EU bureaucracy: since the saunawursts have roughly 40% meat the rest being flour and whatnot (I don’t even want to know!), they were officially classified as pastry products. Quite embarrassing for the leading manufacturers… This may very well be an urban legend, but it doesn’t change the fact that the sausages are mostly made of fillers rather than proper meat.

Grilling Saunawurst after some ice fishing

Yesterday I spent the day ice fishing with my friend Tommi. The weather was very tolerable -5 degrees centigrade (23 F), and after the mandatory twenty minutes of ice fishing we decided it was about the time for our main reason for the trip: setting a nice camp fire and spending the rest of the day sitting next to it idly chatting by.

No matter when or where we go, the fire is the highlight of the day. A mushroom picking trip in the fall, or an ice fishing trip in the midst of the winter, is enhanced and enchanted by a big camp fire. I love everything about it: the smell of the smoke, the sparks rising with the smoke towards a dark sky, the noise it makes, and last but not the least the warmth the fire provides.

It’s hard to imagine a trip outdoors without having a package of saunawurst in the backpack. Our ice fishing trip was no exception: as soon as the fire was set, we started grilling our sausages on a twig. If you have the patience of a buddhist monk, wait until the wood has burned down to red hot coals for best results. We were hungry, cold and impatient as usually – but nonetheless the hot saunawurst tasted heavenly topped with heaps of mustard :)

Grilling Saunawurst on a campfire

BTW, we didn’t catch any burbots, but who cares :) The local supermarket is the best fishing ground anyways ;)

5 Responses to “Saunawurst, The Finnish National Vegetable”  

  1. Anna

    I definitely learned a new word today – burbot. But did you realize it’s also called “eelpout” ;) The Latin name Lota lota is also pretty funny.

  2. Pille

    Anna – I didn’t know that burbot (eli “luts” viroksi) is also knowns as eelpout. So I learned a new word as well:)
    Antti – your fishing trip sounds so idyllic. I haven’t ice-fished myself obviously, but can wholly appreciate the joys of roasting ubiquous “pastry sausages” over amber coals out in the wild..
    Cute dogs, by the way!

  3. Anna

    Antti thinks my most common facial expression looks like this |-( – a.k.a. “eelpout”?

    Well, I can’t say I’ve ever seen luts/made/eelpout/burbot in New York – tilapia and swordfish are much more prevalent. Maybe I should have visited the legendary Fulton fish market before it moved to the Bronx. While I generally like exploring the Bronx, the Hunts Point area where the new wholesale fish market is located seems to be one of the rare remaining pocket of seediness in the city, rife with eighteen wheeler drivers picking up street prostitutes. Looks dreary enough from the expressway, so I’m not planning on visiting anytime soon.

  4. joey

    What a nice way to spend a day! :) I spent some time in Finland before and I’m glad you left a comment on my blog so I could find my way here :) Will be back again soon!

  5. Antti

    Thanks for visiting, Joey! My sister Anna is a great breakfast advocate, I’m sure she’ll find your blog interesting too :)

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