Rauma lays claim to a maritime legend.
LOCATED at the west coast ninety kilometres from Turku, Rauma is Finland’s third oldest town and boasts the most famous and unusual dialect in the whole country. Attractive to the visitor are Old Rauma’s wooden buildings and the high quality lace produced there since the 18th century. However, Rauma stands out from a culinary perspective as well thanks to none other than the labskaus (lapskoussi in Finnish).
Unanimously considered as the favourite food of all seamen of the Baltic Sea, labskaus’s origins are, on the other hand, the subject of some controversy. Rauma natives insist to have invented labskaus during the 1700s, although according to others the origin of this dish is be traced back to northern Germany from where it has spread to Scandinavian countries. In any case, nowadays labskaus is a traditionally enjoyed at many northern European seaside towns. Although endless variations of this dish have been reported, some claim that there is only a very slight difference between the Finnish and German labskaus.
Interestingly enough the word “labskaus” is thought to signify “jumble” , which admittedly describes quite well this dish’s appearance and way of preparing. Labskaus is composed of boiled or fried beef and potatoes, which are then diced and seasoned with salt, pepper and bay leaf; they are then left to simmer in a large pot, until the mixture becomes a uniform, creamy-like soup, or alternatively, the meat is added later on so there are still chunks of stewed meat. Optionally, one might include yellow turnip, carrot and onion. The Rauma version of labskaus is served with a side-dish of beetroot, pickles and bread. This dish is extremely easy to make, and above all in large quantities, therefore providing seamen the opportunity to enjoy a highly nutritious and delicious meal with minimum cost, money-wise, as well as time-wise.
This very different Finnish specialty with an aura of Rauma’s very own culinary heritage is definitely worth a try; numerous restaurants in Rauma offer the opportunity to taste labskaus which really melts in the mouth!
ANNA MARIA ALEXANDROU
PHOTO: JENNI LAITINEN