Thursday, 27 April 2006

Drunk more cost-effectively

When moving here I was stunned to find out that the only place to shopping for your accustomed alcoholic beverages such as wines, strong beers and strong liquor is the Finnish governmentally owned shop “Alko”. They only have the exclusive rights to sell alcohol, and no such things as off-license from a restaurant or a Pub! And nothing stronger than mild beer and ciders are sold in the supermarkets. I have heard that is not until quite recently that the liquor still was rationed and you had to save up your ratios if you had a party coming up!

This is just plain, ordinary Finnish politics, Big Brother watching over the little citizen.

The Alko-shops are quite conveniently open, even on Saturdays so you won’t have to make big plans to get your drinks either and they are usually most conveniently situated in big shopping-centres or in junction with big supermarkets. But one thing that catches the eye though.

About a year ago the government decided to lower the taxes on alcoholic beverages, especially strong liquor. But the prices of wine, beers and ciders were not cut as much as the prices of stronger alcohol like vodka and such, and the consumption of strong liquor has since then increased.

Cheaper prices on strong liquor has resulted in young unaccustomed drinkers and teenagers getting drunk more cost-effectively on the more affordable liquors, with the result of an alarming increase in the amount of teenagers ending up in hospitals because of various intoxication related causes. The youngsters now get too drunk too fast on their vodka to be able to properly handle their level of intoxication.

And here I have to mention that you are not allowed to shop in Alko if not old enough, so another problem is the illegal bootlegging of alcohol to youngsters. Now with EU the tax-free has disappeared and you can bring almost as much alcohol as you like to into the country, so I guess this no longer is such a big issue. Is it?

But still worth a thought.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Russian-roulette the Finnish way?

The weather has now been warmer than usual for a change and they talk about the spring catching up for lost time. At least as an allergic to pollen I have discovered that spring is on its’ way. My hay-fever is well on its’ every year visit and this year it is as close as possible to developing into an asthma. I always look like a red eyed rabbit at all the graduation parties in the spring. At least I can wear a big hat and sunglasses when outdoors in the sunny weather and no one will notice.

Kind of sad, I won’t be able to see any skiing on the lakes at Midsummer after all!

I just heard about some people that had been driving in their car on the ice and got stuck. I mean they did not sink into the lake, they just got stuck. This couple just sat in their car and waited for the fire-brigade and police to come and rescue them and finally had the police talk them into leaving their car.
Well, I would get the hell out of the car if it got stuck in the ice, I mean the car might sink ! Questionable is if I would get into a car driving on the ice, and certainly not this late in the year!

I do not know what happened to the car in the end, if they got the car out as well or if they just left to sink into the ice.
But I wonder if this was just having fun playing Russian roulette the Finnish way?

One thing is for sure, the ice is melting, so no skiing if no cars either on the ice.

Monday, 3 April 2006

Finnish cuisine

Finnish cuisine has been talked down badly lately in the media alongside with the English cuisine. Some EU-countries brag about their world famous gourmet-cuisines. So what really is pizza more than tomato-sauce on bread? Or Confit de canard, a mushy bird simmered in fat? Foie gras, pate on the liver of geese with too much food forced down their throats so they develop enlarged, sick livers?

It is just that these dishes are well known around the world and people are more accustomed to them. Finnish food is not merely smoked reindeer-meat and cloudberries. Or did you just get served the bad pieces or is the real problem that you are jealous at the Finns, ( and Swedes and Norwegians) cooking food on all Santa’s reindeers and none left to the rest of Europe?

The Finnish cuisine at least has different seasons with different foods accordingly. Wild game, wild berries and mushrooms in the fall. Pork, ham, rustic stews and soups, fresh sweet water fish such as Pike and Perch in the winter. Summers filled with food barbequed outdoors, fresh cooked dill potatoes, pickled herring, smoked salmon and strawberries and whipped cream and crayfish in end of summer.

Here we are really dealing with originality and preserving the Finnish national identity in a united Europe, the European Union! So leave the Finns their food and when here if you do not dare to try something different, then you are welcome to have your everyday tomato-sauce on bread yourself.

Oh, and one more thing about Finnish traditional cuisine, at least you get full on what you are served on the plate and do not have to wear your reading spectacles on to see what is on your plate.

Unless if you are on a reduced calorie-diet, then I guess just seeing some food, no matter what food, just any food, will do. And the less the better!