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Lihapiirakka, favourite of late-night snackers, is best served with mustard, ketchup and pickels.  Late night drinking around Finland often finds revellers queuing a grill kiosk to soak up the beer.

IMAGINE leaving a bar quite some time after midnight, hungry, tired, and knowing that an empty fridge waits upon your return at home. Bad-sounding scenario; fortunately there is a solution and no-one ends up going to bed on an empty stomach. It only takes a visit to the nearest grill kiosk (grilli in Finnish), to enjoy a “little heaven” of a snack, a tasty and satisfying meat pie (lihapiirakka).

A classic favorite of not only party-goers, but also passengers on long-distance trains, market-goers or simple passers-by on any busy commercial street, the meat pie has even managed to reach world-wide fame after renowned New York chef Anthony Bourdain ordered his after-hours meat pie on-camera from Jaskan grilli in Kamppi, Helsinki.

Meat pies are made from same pastry used to bake another Finnish delicacy, the munkki, and after deep frying they are filled with a mixture of minced meat and rice. The normal-sized pie is by itself quite big, but for extra large pleasure one should opt for the möttönen, meat pie´s supersized version. But this is not all; additional fillings include sausages, kebab or minced meat steaks. Season with a choice of ketchup, mustard, pickle salad, or fried onion rings (or all four!) and enjoy this pie with ‘character’, which encompasses the full palette of trademark Finnish flavours.

Prime Minister Jyrkki Katainen visited Lappeenranta market for a local specialityRegional versions of the meat pie also exist, offering unique filling combinations. Meat pies made the Lappeenranta way include atomi and vety, the latter filled with both boiled egg and ham and the former with egg only. Named after its place of origin – Riihimäki – the riihimäkeläi-
nen is stuffed with minced meat steak and a fried egg. Even Rovaniemi has its own, named after the local football team: the ropsilainen.

Packages of ready-made meat pies can be found from every supermarket. However, it is definitely worth tasting fresh meat pies from the nearest grill kiosk at any time of the day, or night – enjoyed with a hearty helping of fillings, of course!

ANNA MARIA ALEXANDROU
HELSINKI TIMES
LEHTIKUVA / SARI GUSTAFSSON / MIRVA HELENIUS

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