Summer! Yeah! Gale force winds, thunderstorms, endless rain – it’s just like being in England. Normally I like having a barbecue in the back garden at this time of year, but when I tried it earlier this month the last I saw of my sausages was them being carried away by a flood of biblical proportions, doomed to a watery grave. Instead I sit indoors watching hopelessly optimistic summery cooking shows, and dream.
For example, MTV3’s Mitä tänään syötaisiin – or What shall we eat today? – (weekdays at 10, 14 and 1755) seems to revolve almost entirely around grilling slabs of meat and then throwing some salad at it to make it look healthy. Last week recipes included grilled steak with salad, grilled meat skewers with salad, and grilled ribs with salad. I’m no Gordon Ramsey but even I show more imagination in my menu planning than that. The weird thing is that on the show they’re always cooking in the sunshine, which leads to the obvious conclusion that either it was filmed many moons ago or they’re not even in Finland.
Everyone knows that the main problem for chefs in this country is the paucity for much of the year of a wide variety of fresh, local ingredients, by which I mean items that aren’t flown half way across the world onto our tables. But even if the shelves of bigger supermarkets are groaning under the weight of fancy imported grub, there’s not much of it on MTV3. Apart from the grilling you can guarantee that every show will include either a fruit pie or flan, pasta with meat or salmon sauce or something involving potatoes. It’s also a problem that the show relies on so many Finnish producers as sponsors. Even vaguely foreign-sounding dishes like stir-fries are rendered depressingly domestic by the addition of Pirkka’s frozen vegetables into the mix.
Over on Nelonen, meanwhile, there’s an even weirder show. Well, I say show but it’s more of an advertisement for Valio products. Valio juustoklassikkoleivät, or ‘Valio’s classic cheese sandwiches’ (1900 every day) is bizarre because 1) everyone knows that sandwiches (and indeed, bread in general in my opinion, ruisleipä excepted) in Finland are some of the world’s worst examples of the noble food, and 2) Valio’s cheeses are hit-and-miss to say the least. The advert lasts one minute but it’s a proper show with a page on Nelonen’s website and everything, although it’ll take more than that to convince me that Valio can tell me anything I don’t already know about sandwiches.
Still, at least we’re not exposed to the dead horse that is Masterchef Suomi at the moment, although you can be sure it’ll be back after the summer, just like last year and the year before that. Apparently, repetition really is the spice of life, after all.
The writer knows the art of channel surfing.