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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, November 04, 2006

MONDAY October 2.
This was one of the best days I can imagine. We began with what has become our “regular” kaurapurro with raisins, and this time I used chopped walnuts and a little honey for a middle eastern approach. Add a little fresh sour rye bread, good Finnish butter (there IS a difference) and some new cheese I found that probably is a derivative of havarti but with a slightly milder flavor. We dressed in rather dressy casual, since we planned to go into the temple openhouse but weren’t sure if there was a dress suggestion.
We took a new road into Helsinki, stopping for just a moment or two at McDonalds for a one Euro strawberry ice cream sundae (we felt an obligation to have something fattening.) The road into Helsinki was curvy and a little more scenic, though we were in a season where, if you look, everything is scenic. We passed rocky little bays in the Gulf of Finland, crossed the odd stream, saw a lot of evidence in the highway cut-aways and even in a granite hill or two of the granite slab theory of Finnish geography. The leaves were still trying to turn yellow, red, orange, and brown. Not having already seen where the highway would end, we just followed the signs that said “Keskusta/ Center and ended up pretty close to the center of town. It was a trip that took a little more time since the speed limit was eighty k per mile where the limits on E18 range from one to one hundred twenty k per mile. We saw some of the docks and shipping centers then came to a Tori (market square) called the Hakaniemi tori. We got out and wandered a bit, but it was Monday and it is not one of the great days for the tori. We finally went into the Kaupa tori (Indoor market) and shopped for more Finnish bread and cheese. For a country that makes some of the best cheeses in the world, we have found that a lot of the cheese in the stores is like rubber. I asked the lady in the cheese shop if they had some butter cheese (a wonderful soft porous sweet cheese that was a family favorite forty years ago. She held up a package of Philadelphia cream cheese, and I groaned.. I asked then for Havarti cheese, which is a little like a harder butter cheese. She sneered “The Danes make Havarti cheese from goats milk for heaven sakes, you want goat cheese. Oh well, we found some really good bread then later, on a trip to a monster mall, we found some Turun cream cheese ( nothing like Philadelphia and exactly what we wanted- though we hoped for some cheaper stuff of the same quality. Getting back in the car, we headed for the Tori on the sea front, near the docks. It was busy and exciting. They were having a herring festival so boats were pulled up to the edge of the tori and were selling pickled and fresh herring out of the backs of the boats. There were many booths wish real furs hanging; furs ranging from ermine and silver fox to reindeer hides.
We had a Liha Pirakka (like an unsweetened, large filled donut with meat filling) from one of the food booths which was good but didn’t touch our memories of the same thing. Maybe nothing ever matches one’s memories of forty years in the past.
We the walked down the row of boats from which they were selling fish. I had to look and smell and laugh, but Janet doesn’t like fish at all, and she especially doesn’t like the smell of fish. The topper however was when we came to the booths selling kalakukko.. Kalakukko needs its own explanation. The name means fish cake, or fish loaf. (actually fish flower) There are at least two kinds. In one, bread dough is formed around four or five filets of salmon. When all the fish is covered, it is baked, then when served it is served in heated slices (I actually like this kind, which the people at the tori this time called Lohi kukko which would translate to “salmon loaf”or “salmon cake”. The real kalakukko is made by forming a loaf around a whole bunch of little bitty fish. I don’t know whether they are smelt, sardines, or herrings but they are mounted in the loaf whole, so that when you cut into the loaf their little bitty eyes are staring at you, you can feel the teeny bones on your teeth, and if that doesn’t repel you, then you are a Finn. A Finnish doctor told me, many years ago, that there are a number of Finnish recipes that leave the bones in because the Finnish soil lacks calcium, and eating fish bones helps. For a country that produces all kinds of dairy stuff, the explanation doesn’t quite make it for me.
Any way we walked past booths with Lohi kukko, regular kalakukko cut in half so the you could see the helpless minnows in their cooked state, and other kalkukko wraped in foil so that you could talk them home and cook them. I can hardly tell you how swiftly Janet walked down the rows, smiling, at last to come out where man was demonstrating his hand made knives, or leukos. You can see by the pictures (if blogger is kind) the boats, the booths with kalakukko (the aluminum wrapped ones and the lohi kukko which looks like loaves of brown bread with large spots on the sliced end. We had a pleasant time at the tori, made resolutions to go to Stockman’s Department store tomorrow (Stockman’s was identified as the largest department store in the world in the sixties. There is a saying, Helsinki is the capitol of Finland, and Stockman’s is the capitol of Helsinki) but it was well past mid day so we determined to go back to the temple site and go through the open house (It is a fact that over 50,000 people went through the open house. There are five million Finns. That is an enormous percentage). When we got to the site, we were informed that we would have to back-track down the highway to a sports stadium where they provided shuttle busses. Just then, a car left the main parking lot and we were able to slip in. For marginal walkers this was a blessing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the openhouse, but it was a beautiful day, the temple is lovely both within and without, and much of the wonderful furniture was hand made here in Finland. The exterior is polished granite, and in it, you can see the reflection of the birch trees across the street. We left the place with very full emotions. I had hoped to meet some people who were in Finland fifty years ago, but I failed.
We then left for Porvoo and Isnas where our cabin was. We took one of the circuitous routes from Helsinki to Porvoo seeing a wide variety of country views. The granite slab story of Finland was made clear with every highway cut, and in fact we saw one house built on top of what seemed like an impossible enormous granite mound that looked like the biggest cowpie in the world. ( If you don’t know, don’t ask) .
Part of the road we traveled was part of what is called the King’s highway, that stretches across the southern tip of Finland from edge to edge. It is called the kings highway because it was the route taken by the kings of Sweden and the Czars of Russia to travel across Finland, with secure villages or miniature castles spread along the road, each a normal day’s travel apart..
When we arrived at our cottage, we were elated with everything that had happened that day. We added a little sausage to our usual meal of bread, cheese, lingonberry jam, then went into the Sauna, and then to bed. There was nothing in that day that might have indicated that at about 2:10 the next morning our world would seem to fall apart.

5 Comments:

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I just finished catching up reading about your adventures and I feel exhausted just reading about it. That is good news about Janet. The salmon loaves sound great and made me hungry for breakfast. I didn't comment under your pics because they are duplicated and I wasn't sure which one you would delete.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Kathleen said...

I loved the pics and the description of the products ... salmon sounds good, but the multiple small fish loaf is FAR beyond the curiosity of my highly inquisitive nature. Eyeballs and bones … Oh, my.

I am happy that Janet is making good progress and you will be home soon.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Kathleen, eyeballs and bones and EVERYTHING ELSE as well (actually the last one I tasted was forty years ago, and they may have changed the recipe a bit).

 
At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Medevac pro said...

Ha.....most readers just figure the Salmon loaves are more interesting than your plight.

I, as a coordinator of aeromedical services who has been "teaching" the proper ways of handling these situations in Latin America, feel that we are much better trained in assisint others than our european counterparts...Finland, or any other largely hidden planets, have no excuse to behave the way they did with poor Bob and Janet.

My only comment, and my pet peeve...is that most of those who travel...as we can see by the responses of the readers, do not see the health situation picture BEFORE traveling.

Next time, take my number and or keep my email address handy and I will bail you out without difficulty and not having to jump through all the hoops you did.

We are glad Janet is fine now.....ufff...

Manny Nunez
Director,
Latin American Aeromedical Association.
California USA
http://aeromedicina.org
medicalairxpress@hotmail.com
1-562 746 9442

 
At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Medevac pro said...

Ha.....most readers just figure the Salmon loaves are more interesting than your plight.

I, as a coordinator of aeromedical services who has been "teaching" the proper ways of handling these situations in Latin America, feel that we are much better trained in assisint others than our european counterparts...Finland, or any other largely hidden planets, have no excuse to behave the way they did with poor Bob and Janet.

My only comment, and my pet peeve...is that most of those who travel...as we can see by the responses of the readers, do not see the health situation picture BEFORE traveling.

Next time, take my number and or keep my email address handy and I will bail you out without difficulty and not having to jump through all the hoops you did.

We are glad Janet is fine now.....ufff...

Manny Nunez
Director,
Latin American Aeromedical Association.
California USA
http://aeromedicina.org
medicalairxpress@hotmail.com
1-562 746 9442

 

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