The flavor of Finland food can't be described in words. Once you are in this country, your mouth will always lick for delicious food in Finland . Poatoes, meat, fish, milk, butter and rye bread are the traditional mainstays of the Finnish diet, but food in Finland has been greatly influenced both by Western (French and Swedish) and Eastern (Russian) cooking. Tourists can expect excellent fresh fish dishes on menus. Examples are pike, trout, perch, whitefish, salmon, and Baltic herring. All are in abundance most of the year. Crayfish (a Finnish specialty) is available from July to August. One should also try reindeer meat, smoked or in other forms. Regional dishes include kalakukko, a kind of fish and pork pie, baked in a rye flour crust, and karjalan piirakat, a pasty of rye flour stuffed with rice pudding or potato and eaten with egg butter. Various kinds of thick soups are also popular.
In restaurants ( ravintola ), the menu is continental with several Finnish specialties. Restaurant prices are moderate if the set menu is chosen. Most restaurants have a special menu for children, or other half-price meals. Inexpensive lunches are served at places called kahvila and baari (the latter is not necessarily a licensed bar). Information about gourmet trails may be obtained from Finnish Tourist Board offices; two are planned - for east and west Finland . The trails have been designed so that both can be covered in two to four days. Visitors on the trails will visit a variety of eating places from large chain hotels to inns and farmhouses, with the emphasis on the smaller, more personal places. Additionally in Lapland, Lappi à la carte consists of three gourmet routes. An English route map with details is available from the Tourist Board. Restaurants are divided into two classes: those serving all kinds of alcohol and those serving only beers and wines. Waiter service is common although there are many self-service snack bars. Bars and cafes may have table and/or counter service and all internationally known beverages are available.