A Food and Culture Post from Lapland

By Mridula Dwivedi April 22, 2014 13 Comments

If you have read even a few of my posts you know I largely stay away from culture and food. So now that I have blogged almost everything else I thought it was about time I tried my hand at culture and food. I had the opportunity to listen to some Yoik drumming of the Sami people from Lapland. They are the indigenous people who live in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

Sami Yoik from Lapland
Sami Yoik from Lapland #Lumia1020

I was planning to upload a video of the drumming and the yoik on Youtube and imagine my surprise when I got to know that the opening song of the movie Frozen is a Sami yoik from Norway! I actually watched the movie on my Delhi-Munich flight! There is a version of the opening song with the drums that I have now completely fallen in love with.

Sami’s are said to be pagans. Reindeer herding is one of their professions. They are said to be close to the earth and proud of their culture. The wonderful team of the #Lumiainlapland event had organized a lunch for us at a Lapp Hut- Tiikun Tiipii at Levi.

Tiikun Tiipii- A Lapp Hut with Excellent Food
Tiikun Tiipii- A Lapp Hut with Excellent Food #Lumia1020

The hut straight looked like it came out of a Christmas post card! Our hostess was Tiikku, who had a lot of knowledge about Sami culture. We asked her if she was a Sami to which she said she was not. She had the most interesting eyes in the world, her iris had two colors! She served me the most amazing homemade beer I ever tasted in my life. I am saying this when I am not even fond of beer. I realized at Levi that I was drinking either beer or wine with almost every meal and without it as well. I am not used to it! My head started feeling funny, by the second day I started saying no even to wine, which was a pity.

Tiikku by the Fire, Levi, Lapland
Tiikku by the Fire, Levi, Lapland #Lumia1020

I don’t know why I kept seeing similarities between the Everest region in Nepal and Levi, Lapland. The color and the embroidery felt very similar to Nepal. Then there was fire which was at the heart of the community at both the places. Or maybe it was just a trick of my mind but Levi, somehow reminded me of Nepal very strongly.

Vegetarian Food
Vegetarian Food #Lumia1020

If you love to travel, being vegetarian limits your options but that is how I am. I am willing to live on bread but remain a vegetarian. But of late I feel the world has started us vegetarians better. I had some excellent potatoes, carrot jam and vegetables as my main course. Tiikku’s place has great Sami pictures. She was talking about the role of a Shaman and his/her importance in the traditional Sami culture. Then she pointed at me and said a Shaman would usually sit where I was sitting, opposite the door!

Home Made Beer and Flambéed Lappish Cheese with Lingonberry Sauce
Home Made Beer and Flambéed Lappish Cheese with Lingonberry Sauce #Lumia1020

Now that I at least make an effort to talk about food, I realize that desserts are my real interest. Along with the previously mentioned excellent home made beer I loved the Flambéed Lappish Cheese with Lingonberry Sauce. My more food inclined friends talked about cloudberry which sounded very exotic to me. I manged to try a cloudberry based dessert in Helsinki eventually.

Reindeer Love
Reindeer Love #Lumia1020

I didn’t get to see a reindeer in the wild but I got to see plenty of them. There is no doubt people love them but they eat them too. I remember one member of the Chinese media team saying loudly that he would never eat reindeer meat as they were too cute! Then people asked him which was the cutest animal in China. To which he said pandas and anticipating the next question, he said vehemently “and no one eats pandas.” Well I am a vegetarian, I anyway don’t understand it.

In the end I leave you with the yoik I heard at Levi, Lapland. It was an absolute privilege for me to listen to it.

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13 thoughts on “A Food and Culture Post from Lapland”

  1. Those reindeers are incredibly cute! Glad the world is becoming more accepting of vegetarians… food is such an integral part of travel… I really feel like I am missing out on something because I am vegetarian. And like you I am vegetarian by choice.

  2. Oh this is so much like a fairytale.I have watched Frozen too,its such a cute movie.Never knews such characters exist in real life.Next time take me with ya ,puuuulllllleeeeeeaaaase!

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Travel Tales from India

I started 'Travel Tales from India' in 2005. It has become an anchor for my travel writing. My blog was once linked at BBC and The Guardian. All my stories published at Gonomad can be viewed from my writer profile page. In December 2010 I featured in a National Geographic Skoda Yeti Video. You can write to me at mridulablog at gmail dot com For advertising queries please check out my advertising page.

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