I don’t travel very much outside the US. Luckily I have friends that will pick up the slack and ruin their diets by ordering pizzas in the unlikeliest of places. This time it’s our friend Kristy and the place is Helsinki, Finland.
I took my job as a pizza researcher in Finland pretty seriously. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as pizza accessibility before I went over, so I made sure I ate some for both lunch and dinner the day before I left the states. Luckily, there is no ‘za shortage in the great land of Suomi (Finland)!
The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t cut into slices, which would be the standard of all pizza I got there. I found this somewhat inconvenient, because I’m lazy, but eventually took pleasure in cutting up weird shaped slices all on my own like a big girl. The crust was thin and crispy, basil was plentiful and fresh, and the balsamic was killer. Overall, a very pleasant pizza.
However it didn’t hold up so well when I finished it off back in my hotel room at 5 am. Soggy city.
My next documented pizzerience was again in Helsinki at a place called Barbarossa. Myself and a few other residents went back down to the city to take a day trip to Estonia by ferry, and spent the nights before and after in a Helsinki hostel.
This place was on the same block we were staying.
Barbarossa was run by a few friendly Turkish guys who liked to wink at us and had no idea what crushed red peppers were. It’s just not a thing in Finland. Spicy in general doesn’t seem to be a thing there. This was an end of the night, pre-hostel-crash pizza, but I was still dry enough to know it was delicious. Pineapple is a popular topping over there, which I never think to order in the states, but I developed quite an appreciation for the little yellow “ananas”! My resident-friend and I each ordered one pizza, because they were only 6.50 euros and we assumed they would be pretty small. NOPE. Huge, tasty, and held up for breakfast the next day, too.
Everything in Finland is pretty expensive (especially the alcohol!). They make it hard to be fat, drunk, or anything other than respectable and well educated.
The third and final pizza story I will share was at a place called Koti Pizza.
Koti means “home” in Finnish. So, like, homemade pizza. Except, it was inside a gas station slash truck stop area. The Finns from the residency claimed it was a popular pizza place, but I suppose they never really said it was good, to their credit. It wasn’t. I’ve never tasted (not tasted?) dough so flavorless, and the sauce was way too sweet. The toppings were decent, but the blood and the bones were bad.
Luckily, I’d picked up a pear hard cider that helped wash away the poor pizza memories. Hard cider seems oddly popular in Finland - with almost as many options as the beer section in most stores.
A few days later we went back to the food/gas station, but that time I ordered a burger with bacon from the place right next to Koti. Seriously one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever had. Plus, they had a sweet metal-themed casino game you could play while you waited for your order. Gas station food: redeemed.
Finland is unlike any other European country I’ve been to before. The people seem really reserved, and most won’t talk to you unless you go out of your way to initiate the conversation and when you do, they’re really friendly and speak English as well as any American. It’s just nice over there, and quiet. Hence the need for sweet metal bands like Children of Bodom! And don’t fear, globetrotting pizza-lovers of the world, they CAN and DO make some excellent pie!