Spring arrives and with it yeasty lemonade
A recipe for Finnish sima and impressions of Mayday
Coming, as I do, from England, I’m pretty familiar with people doing strange things on Mayday.
In Cornwall, they enjoy a bit of this.
And, elsewhere around Britain, dancing around like this is entirely to be expected.
Most people in England, of course, don’t spend their time dancing on Mayday. It’s just another bank holiday, the eccentricities being left to other people of a more colourful, potentially more interesting, disposition.
And that’s one of the differences I’ve found between England and my new home of Finland. In Finland, the eccentricities don’t exist out on the fringes by a small, dedicated, and largely misunderstood sort. Instead, the eccentricities are manifested more broadly to the point that they aren’t eccentricities at all.
And that is no less obvious than at Mayday.
Spring has finally arrived here in Pori, Finland where I live. On Mayday last week, the spring sun shone with such conviction that, even with the snow yet to fully melt, summer just no longer felt so far away.
My wife and I were headed to a park to enjoy the weather with our kids and my wife’s parents. But before they left the house, being Mayday, my Finnish family all required a very specific item of clothing before they stepped outside: their high school graduation hat.
This hat is a little white thing that, to me, looks much like a sailor’s hat. And, to a large majority of Finns, it’s imperative it be worn throughout May 1, wherever they go.
Some people even where their “student jumpsuits”. I can’t really explain the phenomenon that is the Finnish student jumpsuit. But, in short, it is a jumpsuit that students in Finland wear and progressively add more and more badges to after they complete specific university/college courses.
The jumpsuit, and the little white hat, for some reason, is Mayday’s uniform.
Being from the country that just spent 100 million quid putting a 700 year old crown on an old man I probably shouldn’t comment on eccentric traditions.
But it is part of the fun of moving abroad. Getting a chance to see normal things that seem new and interesting from your own, immigrant perspective.
Much as I
was jealous of enjoyed my wife’s little hat, Mayday in Finland (or Vappu as it’s called here) is particularly interesting to me for its culinary traditions.
On Vappu, it’s traditional to eat donuts (munkki in Finnish) and a truly delicious cold, fermented drink called sima.
Sima is basically a fermented lemonade. And if you’ve ever sat there in your kitchen looking up at your cupboards thinking: “What can I do with all this yeast I have other than make bread again?” then, boy, is sima the recipe for you!
It is easy, delicious, fun, and a genuinely good alternative for people who are staying away from alcohol (though, if I’m to be proper, I should say that the yeast fermentation does make sima very slightly alcoholic, though even a long-fermented sima would be hard to reach over 1% alc vol).
Here’s how I made mine last week.
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