Savotta of Gutzeit in Ilomantsi, 1926
Picture: Historical Picture Collection, Finnish Heritage Agency
While working at the Pielinen Museum, I translated the museum’s materials from Finnish into Russian. The work was very interesting. The museum had two sections: an indoor museum and an outdoor museum. A large part of the exhibition was formed around savotta. Do you know this word? Savotta means a forest working site that involves logging and timber rafting. The workers used to bring a pie filled with rutabaga (lanttukukko) with them to eat. People went to work for a week or two… and took those pies with them. Why did I start telling you about this? Because this was common in North Karelia, where I now live. I have two photographs from the collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency. In both photos, people are sitting and resting after a day of work. The pictures are from 1926. Can you imagine? In this picture there is a lean-to where people slept, and a large campfire around which people would also sleep. When they went to work for a week or two, people took that lanttukukko with them. I tried to enlarge the image to see if it really had lanttukukko or not. It seems to me that it is, probably with coffee… It is. Do you know why? Think about how well balanced that food is! Rye bread, vegetables, meat. No need to prepare anything, just heat lanttukukko by the campfire and eat it. Our mother loves lanttukukko, and I have learned to make it. Do you know how I make it? As a base for the dough, I soak the rye bread, which has dried a little. You probably know the Porokylä bakery, I can recommend their bread as the rye bread for this. It is quite the best. It is baked here in North Karelia. It is really good! I mix it with boiled water, and it becomes like regular yeast dough. Then I add wheat flour to the dough and after that I have to cut the rutabaga into really thin slices.I do it with a grater, with the side we use to plane cheese. I cut very thin slices and put them in layers… And then I bake the lanttukukko for a long time. I used to live in a detached house, and lanttukukko could be left in the oven almost all night. It roasted slowly and was amazingly good. Now I have an electric oven, I live in an apartment building now (laughs), and first I let the crust of the pie get brown, then I wrap it in foil and it gets done faster. You no longer have to wait all night to ripen. The most important thing, of course, is not to let it leak. It is important that everything inside the pie also stays inside. This way, I have taken a traditional Finnish recipe and use it (laughs).