Traditional dishes, slowly but surely
Everything good in life takes time. One of the seven wonders - Särä, the lamb stew from Lemi - also needs time to stew. The secret of Särä is hidden in the way it’s prepared in a birch-wood trough called “särä”, which gives this traditional dish its name. The basic ingredients are lamb and potatoes, and the only spice used is salt. Before Särä is ready to be served it stews slowly in a wood-heated oven for as long as 8 hours.
While waiting for the särä to be ready, the hungriest visitors can pop out to Lappeenranta to try Vety and Atomi, the favourite local snacks. The pies where created in the early 60's by a local coffee shop owner. The test group of clients named them after current topics of the time: the atom bomb (ham or egg) and the H-bomb (ham and egg). These meat pies with ham, egg, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion and mayonaise inside, are indigenous local delicacies, which you can find nowhere else. Try them at the market place or harbour. The taste will capture your heart!
Karelian hot pot is a simple but oh so delicious stew with pork, beef and sometimes also mutton, and no other seasonings except salt and pepper. Cooked slowly to perfection with a small amout of water, the meat is so ripe, there's no need for a knife.
A beautifully pinched rye pastry and a filling of rice porridge, barley porridge or potato constitute one of the region’s best-known and most popular delicacies. Karelian pies are found on the menu in most cafés and restaurants in the Saimaa area.To accompany them, you can choose crispy fried vendace, widely available in the summer season in particular.
Truly independent travellers can head out to the forests of South Karelia, where sharp eyes will discover plenty of delicious berries and mushrooms in summer and autumn. Nothing beats the flavour of self-picked berries and mushrooms, but the counters groaning with the treasures of the forest at the farmer’s market will also make your mouth water.