When we arrived in Fiskars it felt like being transferred to another time. The sense of a historical atmosphere was so real because of the old buildings and compact structure of the village. For a Finnish person who lives in central Finland it also felt like being abroad when you suddenly hear so many speaking in Swedish. Although hearing both national languages of Finland made the experience of Finnish food culture more real and authentic. The experience of traditional tastes was very different even though the tastes were familiar to us. For example, we enjoyed a meal which consisted at least three different traditional tastes of Finnish food culture. For us each raw material represented the season of the year. Especially mushrooms, lingonberries and apples in the dishes represented autumn.
In addition to the place and the knowledge of localness made the experience different. Normally you don’t think about that much where your food comes from. The place where you eat it is usually not the place where it is produced. In the Slow Food Festival, the case was different. We could actually eat food in a same place where the ingredients came from. The meal we ate was prepared by the restaurant called KW. In the interview one of the chefs of the restaurant told us precisely where the ingredients of our meal came from. For us this was really genuine food experience because we could really trust that the food we ate was clean and of good quality.
In the Slow Food Festival this restaurant represented sustainability most visibly through the cutlery. The cutlery in KW restaurant was made from corn which was quite surprising and new for us. However, this was a concrete proof that the whole food experience from the ingredients to the cutlery can be made sustainable. Although in the restaurant they use normal metallic cutlery. It is interesting to think about in which way the experience of the food could have been different if we would have had the meal in the restaurant. In Fiskars village the closeness of nature influenced essentially to the feeling of authenticity.
This kind of an event is a huge opportunity for the restaurants to create and modify people’s image of them. It was really easy to approach the staff of the restaurant and ask face-to-face anything from the production to the experiences without any intermediate and we saw how the chef made the food himself. This in a way completed our experience of the food we ate. Although bringing producers and consumers closer to each other is part of the Slow Food idea.
From the point of view of foreign eyes, the autumn in Finland is something magical, and in Fiskars village the atmosphere perfectly reflects this period of the year where many colours in their different shapes and shades get mix up with the surrounding and unspoilt landscape. This was one of the first feeling we experienced when we started exploring the small area of the Slow Food Festival Fiskars hosts.
It is not always easy to think in which way a restaurant could be sustainable and could provide slow food dishes, so we decided to ask some simple questions to the owners and the chefs to find out what their vision is and what they want to instil through their creation to the customers. Meals are precisely planned, and planning takes a lot of time, as well most of the ingredients and raw materials, as mushrooms, comes from the nearby surrounding. Local means Finland, but many different cuisine influences are from other countries as well the Scandinavian influence is all over the world.
“According to one of the chefs, Finnish food could be considerate sustainable due to the very limited use of pesticides or other toxic substances in grazing and farming here in Finland and the use domestic products and raw material does not always work because it depends on the dimension of the company and it could be difficult to get local food from the nearby producers.”
However, being sustainable also means reducing plastic waste, for instance, cutlery and cups at the Festival were completely biodegradable and one of the main purposes was to try avoiding plastic, garbage and food loss.
We tasted a typical dish KW-restaurant had prepared and the different seasonal tastes, smells and colours were perfectly combined in a very simple and genuine way. The attention to detail is another important aspect we saw that’s why we ask to describe their food in one word and was surprising to figure out there was not just one word that could describe this, because what they cook is something which combines food, tradition, passion, art and local ingredients.
But tradition is not just related to meals, the identity of the restaurants and their dishes find the reason to exist from their history and origins and in the feelings their atmosphere give to the others. Sara said the Fiskars Wärdhus reminded her of the familiar and cosy milieu of a place where she is used to eat her favourite meals and it is true! Personally, it seemed to be in one of the mountain huts where I usually go during summer in the Dolomites. Eating and tasting new combination of flavours if to be at home, it is the best way to discover and share slow food traditions.
“At our Restaurant all meals are pieces of handicraft and we are passionate about it! Handicraft is a tradition in the Fiskars Village. So come enjoy the handicraft, seasonal delicacies and the wonderful ambiance of the oldest Inn in Finland with us! (http://www.wardshus.fi/en/)
Fiskars Wärdhus (Wärssy) is the oldest Inn in Finland. It has been working continuously since the year 1836. We visited their street food stand in the market place. The stand gave us a little bit of a different vibes than the restaurant itself. The restaurant was really historical and there was a calm and sophisticated feeling. In the stand they told us their restaurants history and gave examples of their food. Mostly they use local products which comes from really close to Fiskars. Also, the restaurant tries to avoid plastic, garbage and food loss. We asked them to describe their restaurant in one word and the waiter and the chef said diverse, delicious and pretentious.
When walking through the market, our eyes were captured from the colourful stands representing.
Here is the KW-restaurant chef answer to our questions:
Where your food come from?
- Most of the food is from the nearby
- For example, mushrooms are from the woods of Fiskars
- What is the story of the restaurant?
- Interviewee had worked a long time in different restaurants as a waiter and chef. He had gained about twenty years of experience, so the idea of own restaurant sounded good. The idea has always been on the back of his mind.
- Do you usually use ecological cutlery?
- In slow food- festival cutlery was made of corn which makes them biodegradable. In restaurant they use normal metallic cutlery.
- Because of these biodegradable cutlery and cups and mugs there’s no plastic waste at all which is really great.
- What local means to this restaurant? Do you use local products?
- Interviewee said that restaurant aim to use domestic products and raw materials, but it doesn’t work sometimes. The restaurant is a big company and according to him it’s difficult to get local meet from the producers nearby.
- Local means to this restaurant that raw materials are produced in Finland because Finland isn’t that big of a country anyway.
- According to him Finnish food itself is sustainable because we don’t use that much pesticides or other toxic substances in grazing and farming
- Link to their website: http://www.restaurangkw.com/en/
Text and photos: Miida Anttila, Sara Ronkainen, Stella Frasson, Cia Vento