30.6.13

Sauna Bundles ‒ Saunanyytit


Having a sauna is such an integral part of Finnish culture in general and such a self-evident part of any informal gathering of people I don't normally even think about it.Within the past week I've bathed twice in a sauna. On Friday with my spouse we had our weekly turn in the housing cooperative's communal electric sauna. A week ago we ended up to a friend's wood stove sauna together with all the other guests that came to the party. During the midsummer weekend we also thought about trying out a public tent sauna but unfortunately the keepers had already rolled it up by the time we got to the happening.

It's not anymore the place where every Finn is born and dies, but you still can't fully understand Finnish culture separate from it. Sauna is a sacred place that I hounour for making everyone equal and stripped from titles at least for that small moment, as well as keeping away that shame and over-sexualization of our own and others' bodies.

So you understand I was a bit shocked when I read about an Internet questionnaire by Finland's largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the result of which was that 38% of all answerers have never been to a normal mixed sauna in their life and only 57% sees them natural. Guess this explains why all public saunas either split the groups of friends in half according to their sex organs or make you wear a swimsuit, which kind of ruins the idea of cleansing oneself. The top example of this is the longest worked public sauna Rajaportti, where the original design was altered by building a sex segregation wall through the whole building when mixed saunas were banned in 1931. Up today, I don't know a single public sauna I could go together with my friends in the manner we do in home circumstances. But somehow, there's something very Finnish in that when one half of people likes something and the other half doesn't, everyone has to work on the terms set by the dissaprovers.

To get to the actual point, meaning food, I've never really got used to the idea of it being appropriate to eat in a sauna, rather afterwards. But since the sauna stove is hot anyway, you can also use it for cooking. Here's a simple vegetable snack you can cook in a tin foil. You can of course use pretty much anything you wish or happen to have in bundles like these. Sweet potato and champignons as well as rutabaga and smoked tofu pair nicely for example. The thing in these is that the moist veggies and their condiments together form a lot of sauce which was described as "Chinese take-out" to me, so you can easily plan a whole meal around them.

- 1 zucchini
- 1 eggplant
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic (yes, a whole garlic)
- 1 chili
- 2 tbsp rape oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 200 g melting soy cheese

Chop the veggies and mix with the oil, the soy sauce and the vinegar. Divide evenly on foil sheets. Sprinkle with soy cheese.

Leave on a sauna stove (or grill or 200°C oven) until everything has softened up (this should take about half an hour). Enjoy together with your after sauna beer!

Nutritional values / 1393 g:
energy 1278 kcal
fat 90 g
protein 42 g
carbohydrates 70 g
fiber 24 g

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