Mämmi (Maam-me) is a traditional Easter dish that was eaten in Finland as early as the 12 century. It is also mentioned in cook books that date back to the 16 century.
It first apperaed in the South West and on the West coast of Finland, where the Catholic church was established. It was not until the 17 century when mämmi made it’s way to the north and central Finland. There are divided opinions about mämmi also in Finland, some enjoy it, others loath it.
It was a food dish used in the Catholic church during the Easter fasting, meat and dairy products were not consumed on Fridays, so Mämmi became the Easter Friday food and part of the Easter cultural tradition in Finland.
It is said to symbolize the unleavened bread that the Jews eat during the Passover. Mämmi is made by using rye flour, rye malt, water and sweetened with molasses, and seasoned with salt. When the mixture is prepared it is allowed to mature and sweeeten naturally for many hours. It is like a wet rye porridge sweetened with molasses, then the final stage is made by baking it an oven like a pudding/casserole. It is consumed either hot or cold, with milk/cream like a pudding.
Mämmi has a long history and it is part of the Finnish Easter food culture, it is also healthy to eat, it was part of a religious discipline in fasting during the easter time. Dispite it’s innocent history, and cultural significance, Mämmi is often discriminated and scoffed at similar as the Vegemite in Australia. Vegemite and Mämmi are very similar in color, they are both dark brown.
Crossing cultural borders does often bring surprises in ethnic cuisine discovery, and without the necessary knowledge, and the story/beginning/tradition, then it just may seem odd to have brown porridge that is baked in an oven. Rye has been very much part of the Finnish culture, there are many good reason for that, one of them is the health benefits of eating wholemeal rye bread in their farming/forrestry/agricultural communities during meal breaks.