I’m taking a break from Greece and heading up north where the weather is cooler. Taking a mental trip to Finland where I can hang out with the Moomins and eat berries all day in their enchanting valley, where I am sure it gets nowhere near as hot as here.
Finland was my first asignment working away from home…and it was as far from home as I could get. Whereas my home city is crowded and hot, Helsinki was cool (ok, cold too!) with easily half the amount of people (in truth, the population of Finland is less than half the population on the city I live in). The air seemed so clean that I feared it might burn an icy path down my lungs (which were accustomed to somewhat "tougher" air). Everything was so different. Different from home, and even different from the other places in Europe I had visited in the past. This was the first time I step foot in Scandinavia…and I was captivated.
I think it was these very differences that quietly drew me in. I enjoyed the vastness of my new personal space, so different from what I was used to. I could walk and think, and never be disturbed. I reveled in the crystal cleanliness this place. They say you can still drink from the lakes! Is that true? The markets were filled with berries and mushrooms and salmon, and I couldn’t get enough. I was charmed by the shy smiles of the Finns…ready to give a straightforward answer but never one to hit you over your head with their opinions. Perhaps it was the only the infatuated eyes of this naive foreigner, but to me Finland sparkled like so many diamonds in the snow.
And Santa lives there…what more could one place need?
Moomins are the creation of Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. The tales chronicle the adventures of a family of little Scandinavian trolls, white and rotund and furry, in Moominvalley and beyond. Primarily children’s books, they are brilliantly written, running the gamut from whimsical adventures to serious reflections on family and life (at least in adulthood retrospect). And they are just this side of absolute cute-ness. I have been a big fan since I discovered these little creatures.
The cake tin belongs to a good friend whose baby shower we held at my flat. She lent it to me to bake our Moomin cake for the shower (as you can see, Moomin has got more than one fan in this country). It was a gift from a friend of hers who lives in Finland. Isn’t it just the most adorable thing you have ever seen? Ok, he’s got a bit of holes in him (my fault) and his features are not too distinct, but I was seriously enamored!
(In case you are wondering, I used the Classic Pound Cake recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.)
(Perhaps this is the reason I love Tessa Kiros’ cookbook, Falling Cloudberries, so much. Because she has stayed in, and written about, both Finland and Greece, two countries close to my heart…and my stomach.)
(If you live in Manila, and you want to read more about the Moomins, their books are available in the children's section of Fully Booked bookstore.)