Finland’s food scene, with the city of Helsinki at its helm, is just emerging. There’s a sense of mystery, and excitement, around Finnish identity. Shaped in part by Sweden and Russia, both of which Finland was once a part of, the country has only been independent for the last 100 years. It’s also the least densely populated country in Europe. So just as I am learning what it means to be Finnish, what it tastes like to live in Finland…so, it seems, are the Finnish people I’m discussing all of this with.

I can relate. As an American, I’ve always wondered: what exactly is true American food? What I most identify with, as a Californian, is the California cuisine approach — utilizing fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. This approach, across my own country or another, has yet to serve me wrong when searching for the heart and soul of a place’s food (and for the best tastes.)