Would you like a sauna sausage? That’s what I was asked when I was visiting some friends in Finland last summer. I had no idea what a sauna sausage was at the time although logic told me it was a sausage cooked in a sauna. It turned out I was absolutely right!
I was offered two different types of sausages, one had cheese in it and the alternate didn’t. Sauna sausages are called sauna Makkara in Finnish. I opted to try both. The sauna which my friends had was approximately a 3 hour drive north of Helsinki in the Finnish countryside at their summer cottage. The home sauna is located on a lakeside with picturesque views and not a car or any other man made noise to be heard. It was incredibly peaceful; quite an apt setting for my first sauna sausage experience!
The sauna had been heating up for about an hour and the sausages were on a metal plate which was suspended above the sauna stove. They were thick long plump sausages which had cracked from the great heat from the sauna stove below. The heat from the sauna stove had made the skin of the sausages nice; it was perfect. I ventured up onto the top bench of the sauna and lay down. I glanced up at the temperature, it was about 80 Celsius. I put two ladles of water from the bucket (loyle) onto the sauna stove, feeling the heat quickly flooding the entire sauna. It felt wonderful.
After 5 minutes I took a sauna sausage out of the sauna and sat on the decking wood looking out over the lake and pine forests. The sausage tasted fantastic and without a doubt the most special sausage I’ve ever had. I put the sausage down on the plate, swallowed my last bite and jumped in the lake; refreshing!
I climbed back out, ate the rest of my sausage and entered the sauna again. It was a perfect evening if you ask me! Sausages just simply taste better in saunas!
The latest Sauna World Championships ended in tragedy on Saturday 7th August 2010 when one of the finalists died. Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy, a Russian amateur wrestler in his 60’s, along with rival veteran Timo Kaukonen both collapsed with severe burns after about 6 minutes into the round.
Sadly, Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy died late on Saturday. Hakon Eikesdal, a Norwegian photographer reported that both were shaking and bleeding from what appeared to be severe burns. Ossi Arvela, a competition organiser said that the competition will never be held again after this tragic occurrence. Timo Kaukonen is reported to be in stable condition in hospital as of Sunday.
Tapio from Lahti, Finland comments: “I’ll begin by saying that the temperature or the duration of the stay aren’t the worst parts, it’s the humidity that hurts and in this competition 0.5 litres of water is tossed on the hot stones every 30 seconds. That’s what I call insane! Most Finns don’t look up to these people who just want to see who has the biggest tolerance for pain by scalding themselves. I for one enjoy bathing in a sauna and feel that sauna is a nicely warm place for people to escape daily routines, not about searing oneself. If anyone of you ever visit Finland and still – after this horrible incident – dare to visit a sauna, please do! It just might change your minds!”
It’s that time of year again – Quite the challenge if you ask me, but one that these folks take on board with great dedication. The concept – Stay in the sauna the longest and you win. Seems pretty simple really, but when you realise the temperatures they’re playing with, this is no relaxing endeavour. This is an event that works up a great deal of sweat whilst competitors simply sit still.
The 10th Annual Championship took place in Heinola, Finland, over the space of a weekend with 160 men and women from 23 countries pitting their wills against one another. It was to no surprise of the audience, to see the Finns dominate for the 10th year running.
Finnish born Timo Kaukonen won the men’s only event by lasting in the sauna for 3 minutes and 46 seconds. The women’s title was taken by Russian born Tatyana Arkhipenko with an impressive 3 minutes and 9 seconds.
Now you may be scoffing at those times, especially with my use of the word “impressive”. However, please take into account that the saunas they used were heated 110C with half of litre of water being poured onto the stones every 30 seconds! This makes it everything a relaxing sauna isn’t, which is normally heated to around 70-80c.
Organiser Ossi Arvela admits “It’s no fun after two or three minutes. It’s difficult to watch.”
Saunas have long been used in Scandinavia and are still considered a staple in everyday life. It is estimated that there are more saunas in Finland than there are television sets. The population of Finland is approximately 5.25 million (2005), therefore there is one sauna for every 2.6 people. When you contemplate this fact, it is quite evident how important saunas are in the Finnish culture. Why is it then, that these wooden houses are so popular, and why do the Finns hold them in such high esteem?
Saunas trigger the body to heat up, and sweat. This has two main benefits. Firstly, this heat causes the body to excrete toxins which build up in the body. Secondly, the high heat, which ranges from 80°C to 100°C, artificially triggers the body’s immune system into thinking a foreign virus has taken a hold of it. The body then releases antibodies and white blood cells to combat this virus. As a result the body’s immune system is strengthened, helping to ward off any future viral attack.
Without going into a full article on this, I challenge you to try a sauna (after given the all clear from your medical doctor of course), and see if you don’t feel like a million pounds afterwards.