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Anthony Bourdain names Helsinki "dark and morbid city"

Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode featuring Finland’s food scene aired in the US on Monday. Helsinki's bar tram and a sauna blood-letting procedure made a special impression on North American viewers.

Sivukaappaus Bourdainista Helsingissä
Image: Travelchannel

Bourdain's local guide was Sami Yaffa, a former member of one of Finland's most successful rock groups, Hanoi Rocks.

The twittersphere was abuzz as the show aired its first Finnish episode. Helsinki’s bar tram SpåraKOFF was a particular source of admiration.

"I'm moving to Finland, they serve draft beer on their public transportation," tweeted Malek Damiri.

"We need those here. Public transportation would be extremely popular. I'd sell my car," added another new Finland fan, the Firewater Sailors.

Bloody visit

Bourdain’s visit to a sauna where he tries cupping, or traditional Finnish blood-letting, also raised American eyebrows.

"What is going on in Finland? Anthony Bourdain drains a half a liter of bad blood like something off Saw!" Will Hayes exclaimed, drawing a parallel to the blood-soaked horror franchise.

"They are doing sauna based bloodletting in Finland?" asked Dorianna Gray.

Bourdain’s trip was not confined to downtown Helsinki. In nearby Tuusula he sampled traditional Roma fare and hospitality including Rum de Jeremy, named after adult entertainer Ron Jeremy. Viewers wondered if this was a Finnish product, but American producers were quick to correct the assumption.

Finland, Finland, Finland

During the taping, Bourdain also met the Tampere man behind the campaign to bring the American celebrity chef to Finland. No Reservations used Facebook to reach out to Finnish fans, asking Finns for tips on where to experience "authentic Finland."

Bourdain's expedition to Finland's culinary heart brought him to a boozy dinner with a Finnish family. Later, he sampled blood sausage and made an after-hours trip to a grilli kiosk, where Bourdain fruitlessly searched for the meat in a Finnish meat pie (lihapiirakka).

In Finland, commercial broadcaster JIM will air the episode on September 2. However some eager fans quickly posted the programme on YouTube. Among Finnish viewers, the episode aroused fierce debate on whether it provided an accurate portrayal of the country or if it only pandered to cultural stereotypes.

The American travel and food show No Reservations has aired since 2005 on the Travel Channel.

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