Canada vs. Finland: a snack-off

Every four years, Canadians everywhere settle in to their living rooms for a traditional winter pastime…the viewing of the winter olympics.

Canada v. Finland

Sure, summer is great and all. It’s warm and there is swimming. But there is something just so much more satisfying about the winter olympics. And that thing is our national sport.

You may recall how Canada won the olympics four years ago in Vancouver, on our own home turf. And by “won the olympics”, I don’t mean “got the most medals” or points, or whatever. I mean we won at what matters. Hockey. We won at hockey.

Canada is tearing things up again this year, in both the men’s and the women’s teams. The most anticipated game for the men’s team so far was today’s: Canada vs. Finland. Sure, we beat Norway and Austria. But they never had a chance. Finland, however, is a force to be reckoned with.

Canada v. Finland

Having been to Finland, I know how obsessed they are with hockey – just like Canada. There are many things about Finland that are very similar to Canada, in fact. I would say it is the most Canadian-like European country I’ve ever been to.

I was rooting for Canada today, obviously. But I am so fond of Finland, I thought I would prepare a national dish from each country in celebration of watching our hockey team play theirs.

As I recall, in Finland they eat things like salmon and reindeer and potatoes. I quite enjoyed some reindeer meatballs (Lihapullat) I had there, with lingonberry sauce. I couldn’t locate any reindeer in southern Ontario, but I thought some ground elk from our local elk farm would be a great substitute.


And I had some lingonberry sauce from…Ikea! Now, the recipe from Acquiring Taste called for a Finnish dairy product called “kermaviili”, which I had to recreate using half & half cream and balkan yogourt. The recipe also explained that “korppujauho” (breadcrumbs) resembled the texture of semolina flour and soaked up a lot of liquid. I made my own by grating a day old baguette, then drying it in the oven. I then blended the breadcrumbs until they were very very fine, almost powdered. It turned out perfectly!

Meatball makins

The meatballs were baked in the oven while I made the mashed potatoes and gravy, or “ruskea kastikke”.

Finnish meatballs

The potatoes I had in Finland were so rich and buttery, so I did my best to recreate this by cooking the potatoes in chicken stock and using lots of butter.


Oh, so good. Finnish meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy, served with lingonberry sauce and an ice cold beer, I felt like I was back in Helsinki. The meatballs only lasted about halfway through the first period.

Finnish meatballs

Finnish meatballs

The game was close. Canada had a strong defensive line but the Fins were lightning fast.

Team Canada

Onto the next course. What other than Canada’s national dish – poutine!


I have never made poutine from scratch before, but now that I have I can honestly say it is so worth it. I dragged out the deep fryer and simmered even more gravy during the second period.

Deep frying

The trick to good fries is to deep fry them twice, in small batches. Start low, cooking them at 325 F for 5-6 minutes, then set them aside while you do the next batch.

Then crank the deep fryer up to 350 F, return the fries to the oil and cook them another 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown. You can keep them hot in the oven on a baking sheet while you finish the batches.


Then of course come the cheese curds. They must be the squeaky ones or else it is not true poutine. I can’t quite describe squeaky, other than the cheese kind of “squeaks” against your teeth when you bite down on it. And inside a pile of hot fries, doused with piping gravy, the curds melt and get all stringy and gooey and delicious.


Oh, Canada! Nothing like fried potatoes, gravy and hockey to feel like a true canuck.



We won the game!

Canada wins!

Finland played well, but not quite good enough. And Canada will advance to the quarter finals and hopefully onwards to the gold medal game.


Go Canada!



Finnish meatballs

Gravy sauce for poutine

The perfect french fry


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Categories: Food

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4 Comments on “Canada vs. Finland: a snack-off”

  1. April 30, 2014 at 2:20 am #

    Hey! I was wondering if I could use the second image in this post as a banner for the Finnish-Canadian Society’s group page on Facebook. Our logo is far too small for that purpose. I would of course credit you for the image. Many thanks! Carmen from the Finnish-Canadian Society in Helsinki

    • April 30, 2014 at 5:48 am #

      What fun. Sure, go ahead! Feel free to put a link back to my blog if you want to as well. Thanks.


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