The Stadin Silakkamarkkinat

The following is an edited excerpt from Fare Issue 2: Helsinki.

Photography by Staffan Sundström, Words by Gus MacLeod


The Stadin Silakkamarkkinat (“the Baltic herring market”) is one of Helsinki’s longest traditions. Dating back to 1743, the market was established under Swedish rule, and is comprised of a line of fishing boats clustered in the small harbour at Kauppatori. The fishermen have travelled from all across Finland, especially from its furthest reaches—like the autonomous island of Åland. They sell fresh, seasoned, pickled, and marinated herring, as well as spreads, smoked lamprey eel, and svartbröd, the famous dark and densely sweet bread that originates from Åland.

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Hannu Hellsten is from Koukkusaari, a small seaside town in the municipality of Pyhtää, just an hour away from Helsinki. Hannu represents the second generation of his family to sell at Silakkamarkkinat.

Hannu Hellsten is from Koukkusaari, a small seaside town in the municipality of Pyhtää, just an hour away from Helsinki. Hannu represents the second generation of his family to sell at Silakkamarkkinat.

Carola Skaren of Föglö, Åland, has been coming to the herring market for more than 20 years. She sells traditional Åland black bread and pickled and spiced herring.

Carola Skaren of Föglö, Åland, has been coming to the herring market for more than 20 years. She sells traditional Åland black bread and pickled and spiced herring.

Maustekala refers to any number of preparations of Baltic herring. It could, for instance, mean that the herring is pre-marinated in a mixture of salt, spirit vinegar, and water, and then marinated and served in a seasoned sauce.

Maustekala refers to any number of preparations of Baltic herring. It could, for instance, mean that the herring is pre-marinated in a mixture of salt, spirit vinegar, and water, and then marinated and served in a seasoned sauce.

Svartbröd  is a round, dense black bread popular on the autonomous Swedish- Finnish island of Åland. The bread is sweet from added treacle and can last for weeks when stored properly. It tastes great with a slathering of butter, but it’s versatile enough to suit a multitude of sweet and savoury toppings.

Svartbröd is a round, dense black bread popular on the autonomous Swedish- Finnish island of Åland. The bread is sweet from added treacle and can last for weeks when stored properly. It tastes great with a slathering of butter, but it’s versatile enough to suit a multitude of sweet and savoury toppings.

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Butter from a small cheese producer in Mouhijärvi, made from the producer’s leftover cream and later cold smoked.

Butter from a small cheese producer in Mouhijärvi, made from the producer’s leftover cream and later cold smoked.

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To read more about Fare Issue 2: Helsinki, or to order your own copy of the magazine, click the link below. Fare ships worldwide for a flat £3 rate.