July 24 – 28, 2024

Finnish American Cooking provides a central window into Finnish American identity, both past and present. Cookbooks and cooks have each played central roles in the practice and continuation of this particular form of Nordic cuisine. Finland itself has played a continuing role in Finnish American cooking. Thus, while in both countries, bread baking, including pulla baking, has been ubiquitous throughout this history, other foods have had their moment of introduction. Piirakka, for example, was unknown to most until Karelian refugees, after Finland’s 20th century wars, moved to central Finland and to the USA. Cookbooks followed.

Using pulla making as a touchstone, the panelists will shall their knowledge about Finnish and Finnish American cooks and cooking, past and present. Beatrice Ojakangas, the internationally known Finnish American cookbook author, will speak about her experiences with cooks and cooking both in Finland and in the USA. The winners of the pulla baking competition will be announced during this session.

Presenter Bio:
Tom DuBois is the Halls-Bascom Professor of Scandinavian Folklore, Folklore, and Religious Studies in the Department of German, Nordic and Slavic. His research focuses on the ways in which people think about and use the idea of tradition in their lives, with particular attention to Finnish, Sámi, and medieval Nordic cultures, as well as Indigenous Wisconsin communities and communities of people descended from Nordic settlers in North America and the British Isles. His various books look at the Finnish national Epic Kalevala, Viking Age religion, medieval saints’ lives, medieval sagas, lyric and narrative song, shamanism, literature, wood carving, sacral landscapes, and the workings of social media.

Yvonne Lockwood, from 1981-2009, was curator of folk life at the Michigan State University Museum, which provided a format to investigate different cultures in Michigan and the Great Lakes region, and to direct programs and exhibitions that included Finnish-Americans. Her book Finnish American Rag Rugs: Art, Tradition and Ethnic Continuity (Michigan State University Press, 2010), the result of 20 years of research, interviews with weavers and loom makers, remains the definitive work on the subject. Her research and writing has included sauna, St. Urho, coffee traditions and food ways.

Beatrice Ojakangas, the author of over thirty cookbooks, many focused on Nordic cooking, is often referred to as the “Scandinavian Julia Child.” In 2005 she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame for The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. However, it is”The Finnish Cookbook,” 1964, her first book, that continues to be central for anyone wanting to connect to Finnish and Finnish American cooking.

Hanna Snellman has a doctorate in European Ethnology. Her primary research interests are northern communities, forests, history, and migration history. After serving the head of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, she was promoted to Vice Rector. She currently works in building international research and educational facilities within European university networks and is responsible for DEI (diversity, equity, education) and public engagement at the University of Helsinki.