Kaalikääryleet – traditional Finnish food? or What the immigrant critics forgot.

Many things are often declared Truly National by different interest groups: animals, nature types, songs, art etc. Food is an important aspect of culture as are the rituals surrounding it. Different foods are eaten in different areas, and in Finland one delicacy often considered truly Finnish is kaalikääryleet or cabbage rolls. The origin of cabbage rolls can be found in muslim countries.

First a short look at the so called immigrant-critics in Finland: Islam is held as one of the largest threaths to Finnish culture, which is mostly described as whole and unchangeable. Arabic influences on Finnish culture are described as a very recent phenomenon, and especially religion is considered dangerous and threathening. They rarely separate culture and religion so that fundamentalists are not seen as different from secular muslims. Whether immigrant-critical people have been listening too much to George W Bush or not, anti-islamic sentiments have become more common in public debate.

There is of course not a True Finnish Nation with only one kind of people and only one culture; people have always moved around, influencing cultures over made-up borders. The cabbage roll, having the quite impressive status as national food also in Sweden, is an example of this kind of cultural influence.

In Sweden, the Cabbage Roll Day was recently introduced on November 30th, the same day king Charles XII of Sweden died, a day celebrated by nazis. According to Wikipedia King Charles XII “brought Sweden to its pinnacle of prestige and power … although the Great Northern War eventually ended in Sweden’s defeat and end of the Swedish Empire.” With him and his soldiers, who had spent long periods of time in Turkey, the custom of rolling meat and rice in cabbage leaves was introduced in Sweden, and therefore also in Finland.

The introduction of the Cabbage Roll Day is a brilliant way of showing how cultures are not carved in stone. It also indicates how certain foods have been adopted in the European and Nordic cuisine. For example, Finns are known to be the most active coffee-drinkers in the world, but coffee as a drink originates from Arabia.

Immigrant-critics should therefore think twice before announcing themselves as such: Not only do they ignore the history of peoples, they are also ignorant of past cultural influences from muslim (and other) countries. Peoples and cultures have no borders, and only scared fools resort to hatred when they meet people that are different from themselves.


Cabbage rolls on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_roll

Article in Motkraft (in Swedish): http://motkraft.net/2010/12/01/stockholm-kaldolmens-dag-firades-den-30-november/

The Cabbage Roll Day (in Swedish): http://kaldolmensdag.wordpress.com

Make your own vegan cabbage roll (in Finnish): http://www.kasviskasari.net/viewrecipe.php?recipeid=136&pcat=6

One Response to “Kaalikääryleet – traditional Finnish food? or What the immigrant critics forgot.”
  1. Nice article about relativity of everything. And I’m also clad you see difference between secularity and fundamentalism. 🙂

    Threat of Islam is highly exaggerated in media as this Finnish article proves.


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