Mämmi is a very traditional Finnish Easter time dessert made from rye flour and malt. It has a brown and sticky appearance and as far as mämmi is concerned there are two types of people: those who love it; and those who hate it. There's no middle ground. If your Finnish host/friend/loved one offers you mämmi, try it. But remember that 50% of the Finnish population loathes the stuff and it's quite possible that you will too. It is perfectly acceptable to dislike mämmi (but not saunas or Koskenkorva) and the following rural legend shows how this controversial foodstuff has divided Finnish opinion.
Mämmi and the Foreign Relief Worker
Just after the Second World War a foreign relief worker was checking how Finns were getting along for food and so on. During Easter this foreigner ended up staying with a family on a small farm in the middle of nowhere ('the middle of nowhere' being a very common place in Finland during those days). The family had just finished the main course of their Easter meal, and there was only mämmi left on the table when the relief worker stepped in. He took a look around, saw the mämmi and rushed to his car and told the driver to drive to the nearest city as soon as possible. There he went straight to the telegraph office and send the following message to his headquarters.
Immediate food aid needed, people up here are eating something that has all ready been eaten once!
Lovers of mämmi naturally claim this story to be just a mämmi-haters' conspiracy which mocks a perfectly good Easter tradition, while the not so mämmi-friendly Finns are ready to swear with their hand on a Bible that this story is true.
How to Make Mämmi
Nowadays mämmi can be bought ready-made from any store during Easter and occasionally during other times of the year, too. Making mämmi isn't hard either; it just takes quite a lot of time.
- 5 bowls made out of birch bark1
- 3.5 litres of water
- 1kg of rye flour
- 1/4kg of malt, preferably rye malts
- 2 tablespoons of syrup
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of orange peel
Put 1.5 litres of water into a big kettle. Heat it to about 60° Celsius. Add rye flour and malt until you get a thin porridge. Keep stirring while adding the flour and malt. Stop stirring and cover the porridge with more rye flour and malt. Cover the kettle and leave it in a warm place for one hour to sweeten.
Stir the covering into the mixture and add one litre of hot water. Cover again with flour and malt and leave in a warm place for an hour. Again, mix the covering into the porridge, adding one litre of water and covering it with flour and malt. Once more let it sweeten for an hour. By now you should have used up all of the water, flour and malt.
Bring the porridge to a boil and add salt, orange peel and syrup. Boil for half an hour, stirring continuously. After boiling, whip the mämmi for a while before putting it into bowls that have been rinsed with cold water. Scatter some sugar on top and put into an oven (100-125° Celsius) for three hours.
Allow the mämmi to cool and serve together with sugar and cream.