and the answer is… ice cream of course!.
I remember a few years ago, went to some festival (can’t remember where or too many details and can’t find any pictures either) that made me go “Whaaaaat?”. There was a big round pit filled with pine wood and burning slowly. It’s a festival of “Terva” (Terva in Finnish is Tar)…. the big pit is to make Tar (in case you don’t know, tar is made from Pine wood at least here). Although these days tar producing is not actively done, once in a while they have festivals/fairs. It’s more historical than anything else but still fascinating. The one in this picture is a “Tervahauta” or “Tar grave” . It used to be a tar pit once upon a time but now just a historic relic. We tried to find another Tar grave but couldn’t tell which hole was a pit:) . Maybe next summer I will try to find a Tar festival to attend!
But I definitely remember in 2011, we went to a zoo in Ahtäri. It was a nice summer day and after walking around a few hours, we wanted to eat ice cream. And my husband gets this light brownish color ice cream (almost looks like light caramel) and so I ask him what flavor it is and he answers “Tar”. I laughed because it sounded like a joke but alas it’s true! I smelled it, took a bite to taste and no, I will not be eating it again. It is one of those flavors that requires Finnish genes to like it I think. Yes, now, my son also likes it and so anytime opportunity presents especially during summer time, they both enjoy a ball of Tar ice cream.
Summers are great in Finland for a lot of reasons of course but one of them is how easy it is to find ice cream trucks:) Whole towns and cities are sprinkled with ice cream trucks. Even outside grocery stores sometimes along with berry vendors. There is only one particular brand/company that makes tar ice cream and I never found it in grocery stores. We only ever found it in trucks with “Pingviini” brand ice cream. After lot of search, I did find another big-store brand, “Pirkka”, making limited edition but the store ran out of them so no picture there either.
That made me curious as to what else it might be used for (almost thought nothing else will be there). To my surprise, I found a shampoo and even hard candy in tar flavor!..
During summer, we visited a couple of National forests that are close to us. We saw an old farm house, still maintained for visitors to see. There they were selling a small bottle of Tar. I didn’t think of it much till I started researching for this blog post. Seems like there are a few tar pits that still get some action once in a while. And one of them is close to this National forest and was even used last year. Of course I had to get the tiny bottle of tar but haven’t used it yet. One suggestion my son gave is Tar flavored bbq… Does that make your mouth water yet? Hautatervaa – Gravetar?
And during a food festival in Tampere during summer, I found a booth selling honey. My son found, can you guess it?, tar flavored honey. I wonder what the bees might think of this!!!
There are few foods of Finland that are quite unique to the area but “Tar flavored” takes it a bit farther than “unique” for me… Stay tuned for other “unique” foods of Finland in future…