Oh Mämmi, do I have to?

Finns greet Easter with a goopy, black as tar dish called mämmi. If that’s not enough to entice you, let me see if I can adequately describe the flavor. It’s been described as a cross between Guinness and shoe paste. Even with such a distinct look and taste, mämmi is a tradition held seriously enough to warrant protection from the European Union.

Making mämmi is no joke – first you mix rye flour with bitter orange peel, a hint of sweetener, and a few other ingredients. Boiling water gets mixed in and you slowly bake it in a warm oven. Slowly… as in for three hours. Then it has to be whipped until cool. Then it has to sit for a few days. I think there’s some repetition of steps in there somewhere. Finally, and most commonly, it gets served with a splash of cream and a bit of sugar.


If grandma goes to the trouble to make you a batch of mämmi, you had better eat it with a smile – goup and all.

Then? You politely ask for seconds.

Now, some Finns simply buy prepared mämmi (it’s available year round).

If grandma takes this shortcut, however, all bets are off.

Photo: Martin Terber


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