The feared and esteemed bear gets served on the plate!
The bear funeral feasts have long traditions in Finland. Restaurant Saslik has organized a feast of this type already for twelve years, and served bear meat throughout the year on its a ala carte menu since year 1972.
Restaurant Saslik plays a significant role in maintaining the bear meat tradition in Finland because the restaurant alone buys one fourth of all the bears killed during the hunting season in the country. The hunters that Saslik co-operate with come mainly from North Karelia.
The funeral feast is an event that brings the staff closer to the customers: during the feast the staff can on request give some background information (e.g. size, gender, date of kill) about the bear that is served at that moment at the restaurant.
The bear is nowadays a protected game animal in Finland. The ministry of agriculture and forestry licensed only 263 bear killings for this year.
You can find among others bear dumplings (pelmeni), bear fillet flambé and bear paws on the menu. The chef Mika Huovinen is especially proud of the bear baloney which is prepared using his personal recipe and can’t be found anywhere else.
The symbolic meaning of the funeral feast was originally to ask the bear to return to the forest so that it could once again function as nutrition for humans. Ancient Finns feared bears but thought of them at the same time to be sacred animals. Many people of the North used to think of the bear as a human related species. The brown bear is known still today as the national animal of Finland.
Have you tried bear meat already?