Today my friend Amy was in town because it’s her Hiihtoloma (Ski Holiday—which reminds me, Veli-Matti told me that in Finland they stagger the winter holiday week by how far north you live. Etelä-Suomi or Southern Finland gets it first, then slightly north the next week, then further north the next week, and so on. This is to keep the ski resorts from being overbooked.) and she was visiting family in the greater Helsinki area. She suggested we go see the Carl Larsson exhibition at Ateneum, and boy am I glad she did!
I would never have gone to the show on my own because a) I didn’t really know who Carl Larsson was and b) I would have dismissed his paintings as sentimental and cutesy. So wrong! It was an awesome retrospective of his life and work, and it was a very cool peek into what turn-of-the-century rural Swedish family life was like (somewhere I definitely had not glimpsed before!).
The picture above was one of my favorites because of the back story. Larsson said his daughter, who was living as a nurse in Stockholm but was at home visiting the family house in the country, had been dancing until the wee hours of the morning but he made her pose for him instead of going to bed. The facial expression is so perfect.
And since I’m so super-artsy (what with an artist fiancé and all), I also went to Kiasma on Tuesday to see the Thank You for the Music exhibition. The pieces were about “the intense emotional response produced in us by music,” as the website puts it. Veli-Matti was underwhelmed but I enjoyed it a lot. I thought there were too many videos though, and some pieces that felt amateur and un-thought-out (like concert posters painted over with thick silver paint because the artist “likes the colour silver” or something like that in the description—what??).
I also finally went to the Helsinki branch of Vapiano today. OMG. Best panna cotta of my life, and decent coffee too! (I am so spoiled by Vesa I can never have normal coffee again.) Even if it is a German-owned Italian restaurant chain in multiple countries with inflated prices, I love it and want to go back for lunch when Evelyn and Sean are here.
I am SO excited my little brother and sister are visiting me for Spring Break the week after next! Yippee!
I also found out through the internetz that there is an English language association that has a pub quiz once a month, in English, at Molly Malone’s, the local trashy Irish pub. Luckily, the next one is coming up the first Wednesday of the month, which is next week! I am so pumped. AND there is a special extra quiz this month in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It will be when the sibs are here, and with Evelyn’s genius-brain I am sure we will prevail! The only downside is a dumb 10 euro entrance fee. Oh well. Some sacrifices are worth making to participate in a pub quiz.
More from the internet: I ordered the 1964 classic “The Finnish Cookbook” by Beatrice Ojakangas through Amazon about a month ago, and it finally arrived this week. I read it cover to cover and I think I will start a blog devoted to cooking every one of its recipes à la Julie and Julia. Never saw the movie—maybe I should. I picked up a Fun Finnish Fact from the book that I have since repeated to every person I converse with. The Finnish lion on the official coat of arms (seen on the flag flying over government buildings on one of the rare lippupäivä, or flag days, like today—though I don’t know what was being celebrated) visually represents Finland’s place between East and West. The lion is facing west and holding a Western-style broad sword while standing on top of an Eastern-style curved scimitar. This symbolizes Finland’s rejection of the east (ahem, Russia) and firm enshrinement in the culture and politics of Western Europe (with the EU and all that jazz…although that didn’t exist in 1964 when The Finnish Cookbook was written).
Interesting, right?! And check out that tongue: