Ballad of the
Lost Utopian Meadow

a Finnish food archive

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In the fair land of Suomi
Was a town once Red now White,
A feast was laid in the outdoors great
During a summer blue and bright.

T’was a midsummer day
The sky was clear and gay,
No cloud loomed darkly
The soldiers still at bay.

The weather it seemed fine
And air was mildly sweet,
We must away at the break of day
T’was a time of the great retreat.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

A great table before us
Atop a carpet green,
Shaped of oak and silver birch
On its head a bear figurine.

Clothed with a lace so fine
Spiderwebs seemed pale,
Woven with Mari’s flowers
And lilies of the vale.

Those grannies, their fingers nimble
Did a job beyond compare,
Todays’ textiles don’t match up
As Saša can declare.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

The feast itself was sumptuous
Fit for a king and queen,
But no monarchy in Finland
Only comrades were supreme.

Of course now the welfare state
Seems likely to be a sham,
The rich get only richer
‘Cuddly’ capitalism’s a scam.

The food was laid in courses
Of which there were nine,
From across the Finnish country
A diversity sublime.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

The first course, of course, the breads
Both local and non-native,
A host of piirakkas, pullas, leipäs
Historical and speculative.

Ruisreikäleipä, näkkileipä
Perunarieska and ohrarieska,
Sämpylä, limppu, korppu
These breads are Suomi and Svenska.

With butter, lard, or munavoi
These breads shall be eaten,
Sprinkled with salt or cinnamon
They’re right for any season.

The piirakka from Karelia
That most iconic of pies,
Rye crust stuffed with barley
Or most commonly with rice.

Kalakukko is Savionian
Fish ‘n’ pork baked in bread,
And when the fish bones soften
You know that you’ll be fed.

Mustikkapiirakka is also a pie
Dislike it and you’re a hater,
But since it’s likely a dessert
We’ll come back to it later.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

The second course was soup
Of every colour and hue,
In tureens overflowing
The keittos and the stew.

Hernekeitto takes the stage
As a hearty Thursday meal,
Preparing for a Friday fast
This cheat’s truly a steal.

The soup ferried from Sweden
Was made with split peas dried,
Topped with pork, sipuli, sinappi
Or carrots, barley, and rice.

Dreaded now by bloomers
As a Finn-canteen nightmare,
They’d run, and even tell you
“Eat it if you dare”.

And punajuurikeitto
Known as borscht ‘the sour’,
Can be made with sorrel or cabbage
But beetroot gives it power.

Of course, you’d think it’s Russian
Except it’s from Ukraine,
Passed down from Karelia
This version’s got big game.

Assuredly, the salmon soup
Lohikeitto its name true,
Erbed with dill and high on cream
It’s Finnish through and through.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

Next a course of acid trip
Pickles down memory lane,
Silakka, herring, beets, gherkin
Paired with rye bread plain.

But if something fancy
Be your heart’s desire,
Auringonsilmä is what you want
A piquant plate spitfire.

Mushrooms, a Finnish treasure
So good they get exported,
Button, chanterelle, false morel
Eat these and you’ll be sorted.

Along with every meal
Tubers are surely found,
Carrot, celeries, parsnips
And turnips do abound.

Advanced by German soldiers
Potatoes to Finland’s shore,
Since seventeen hundred fifty seven
Welcomed, favoured and more.

Siikli, Hankkijan Timo, Nicola
In salads, boiled seasoned with salt,
In soups or hashbrowns fried
Use these taters by default.

Pito, Puikula, Suvi, Rosamunda
For a higher starch content,
As a mash or Janssonin kiusaus
A finding im-por-tant.

Annabelle, Jussi, Amazone, Matilda
For pannukakku, baked or roasted,
Known as common ‘earth apples’
They’re all-rounders well boasted.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

Then we come to the meats
Baked, grilled or spit-roasted,
Or even quick-fried in the pan
Vegans now get ghosted.

Fish cold smoked, toasted dry
Or butter fried and stressed,
Oily fats come oozing out
when cooked with lemon zest.

And fish freshly cured is great
Heaped on with pepper and dill,
With a squeeze of lime, it is sublime
A Finnish taste instill’d.

For fowl choices are plenty
Of duck, snow-grouse, wood-pigeon,
If traditional fare is what you like
Carve a whole-roast chicken.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

To the main course
The feast now peaks,
All the best dishes of Finland
The menu bespeaks.

Gravied meats with jam
A Laplandish combination,
Savory-sweet and delicate
A gastronomic education.

Roasted elk and lamb
Brine marinated for weeks,
Sweet-n-sour and golden served
With thickened sauce in streaks.

From the northern plains
The reindeer is thus plated,
Minced or cured or cut in stripes
Served even marinated.

When Silvio Berlusconi joked
‘Bout ‘enduring’ Finn-cuisine,
Pizza Berlusconi, invented
T’was a comeback, unforeseen.

Tomato, chanterelle, onion, cheese
And reindeer top this pie,
A burn served with reindeer
Kotipizza’s august reply.

Finnish meatballs ‘n’ berry jam
Of that time it does remind,
When Finns fought another’s war
To death they were consigned.

Homeward bound with meatballs
And with dolmas wrapped in vine,
With cabbage did they substitute
New traditions divined.

This wholesome food tenderly binds
Its history with the Nords,
Trespassing mountains new and old
‘Cross valleys and fjords.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

Drinking’s where the Finns’ heart at
Not really a course that’s separate,
Drink if you will throughout the feast
Or as the toastmaster regulates.

Beer is a cold favourite
Stout, porter, or lager pale,
Ninth largest drinkers of this
Worldwide the Finns prevail.

Bottled or in kegs of birch
Sahti, this olut traditional,
From barley, rye and humble oats
Distilled in Suomi Central.

For those who have a preference
For their drinks to be sweeter,
Cider, lonkero, both alcopops
Sima, it’s a repeater.

And if you like your poison strong
Try kilju, vodka or gin,
Salmari, lakka, akvavit
Koskenkorva for the win.

Here wines will flow aplenty
In the fruity Finnish scheme,
From berries rowan, lingon
Cloud ‘n’ bilberry redeemed.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow still remains

Now for the final closure
This is the sweetest course,
No dearth of choice for Finns
A sweet tooth they’ll endorse.

Sweet ‘n’ salty salmiakki
Laced with ammonium chloride,
A staple favourite of Suomi
It’s cultural heritage in a bite.

Translated as ‘slapped ears’
Korvapuusti’s a fluffy bun,
Served with coffee it’s a norm
Filled with sugary cinnamon.

No Brita cake or blini
Munkki nor apple pie,
Can compare during christmas
A laskiaispulla you can’t deny.

The Runebergintorttu’s a favourite
It does mean ‘Runberg’s cake’,
Although named after the poet
It’s the torte his wife did make.

Thus poet Fredrika Runeburg
Pioneer of historical fiction,
Unsung greatly in her time
Subject to dereliction.

Even histories of dessert can
– Like anything else political,
Be patriarchal and lopsided
Even sexist, so be careful.

Don’t just snooze carefree
Set the record right and straight,
Lest history may repeat itself
A revolution does await.

To end this mighty feast
Coffee’s always a must,
Preferably a light blend
In coffee Finns do trust!
No Finn without a cup is fussed.

The meadow
The meadow
Comrades, come rally
and this fight let's face
The lost utopian meadow
The meadow still awaits

History from this table flows
Of Finns and their sisu,
Tenacity of purpose
No matter what the issue.

The heavy metals of happiness
Hostile to those at risk,
Infest the walls of safety
The capitalism tics.

Domestic violence rises
Gun purchases increase,
Transitioning needs approval
From governments, if you please.

Among POC citizens
Those non-blonde-white-blue-eyed,
Discriminated through generations
Shuffled-skipped-invisibilised.

For those inside, can see
Immigration is complicated,
If your culture brings no capital
Your integration is ill-fated.

More than any aliens
Minorities this ire they bear,
Ostracised and stared
Othered beyond compare.

Although a feast is laid abound
Not a person sits to eat it,
No people are seen around
No one here to greet it.

The meadow
The meadow
’Tis the final conflict
Let each stand in their place
The lost utopian meadow
The meadow still awaits

Happiness not just a state of mind
Definitely but it’s not a statistic,
Whose happiness may really count
The government’s really not realistic.

Boundaries drawn within, they choke
Ethnicities and language,
People isolated from themselves
Identity becomes a baggage.

As survival now dictates
We’re distant and comply,
Sociality bid goodbye
And solidarity is dry.

This feast across the table
Sits fixed, abuzz with flies,
As it festers, cankers darkly
Turning stale to our demise.

It is a midsummer day
The sky now but is grey,
Loom clouds over blightly
Bigotry baguette buffet.

In the fair land of Soumi
Whiteness must wash away,
This feast that’s laid, it can wait
The summer won’t forever stay.

The meadow
The meadow
The lost utopian meadow
The meadow still awaits

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