Tiny Fish of the Sea

11 Oct

Baltic Herring Festival

The Baltic Herring Festival has taken over Helsinki’s Harbor for the past week. There are numerous vendors in bright orange tents lining the cobblestone basin, selling herring in every imaginable form: deep-fried, in a jar, in a can, in soup, on a pizza, in a sandwich… The choices are endless. On the first day of this festival, there is a competition for the Pickled Fish of the Year and the Baltic Herring Surprise of the Year.

On the far left, you can see the Uspenski Cathedral next to Aalto’s white marble Enso-Gutzeit Building.

Tervetuloa means welcome!

On Dancer, On Prancer, On Donner & Blitzen

I went on Thursday of this week to meet my friend and fellow Fulbrighter, Lauren, for lunch. While I did try the herring, I opted for a delectable salmon dish with lingonberries and vegetables. Lauren, on the other hand, ate Santa’s little helper—reindeer meatballs. She let me try a piece of the reindeer and I have to admit that it does not taste as crazy as one might think. It sort of tastes like ham, but has the consistency of beef.

Salmon with lingonberries, grilled vegetables, potatoes and a garlic sauce.

Reindeer Meatballs!

“Oh, What  Feeling, When We’re Dancing on the Ceiling”

There are always tons of seagulls in the harbor. More people (and food) equal more gulls. While we were eating lunch, we could see them walking around on the top of the tent, casting their shadows above us.

Interesting Tidbits

The Baltic Herring Festival has taken place in Helsinki since the end of the 18th century, at least since 1743.

Also, the area in the water where the ships temporarily park is called Cholera Basin, Kolera-allas in Finnish. In 1893, the entire basin was quarantined because a seaman from Nauvo died from this disease aboard his ship. The name stuck.

Pippi loves Herring and Rye Bread.

Want to see the Harbor? Here is a link to a webcam in the Harbor:



5 Responses to “Tiny Fish of the Sea”

  1. nichole October 12, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    So many interesting things to see and eat in Cholera Basin… I can’t say that I have ever tried herring so I’d like to know more about what you thought of it. Was it basically like sardines? Also, loved those photos of the seagulls on the ceiling!

    • hellosinki October 12, 2010 at 5:37 am #

      The herring that I had was fried and tasted like a crunchy, slightly fishy fried thing- oily and salty. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t my thing. I love all the fresh salmon that you can get here, so I’ve been mostly eating that if I go for fish- smoked salmon, salmon soup, baked salmon. It’s delish!

  2. Dawne J Fowkes Cushing October 18, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Jackie: Hope you had an opportunity to sample the Herring in Mustard sauce! It was my favorite. Reindeer is actually very good. Did’t try it as meatballs though.

    Bon Appetit!

    • hellosinki October 19, 2010 at 5:03 am #

      I didn’t try the mustard sauce this time. I didn’t see that anywhere. I actually had herring again in a restaurant last weekend, too. I think it’s fair to say that salmon is still my favorite. Hope all is well with you, Dawne! It’s getting darker and colder here!


  1. The Grounds at Hvitträsk « hellosinki! - November 12, 2010

    […] smelled heavily to me of smoke and fish. It reminded me immediately of similar smells at the Herring Festival in the Harbor I attended in October. The odor is very distinct and not altogether unpleasant. […]

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