Lanttulaatikko from Wikimedia Commons
Lanttulaatikko from Wikimedia Commons

L-A-N-T-T-U-L-A-A-T-I-K-K-O. Lanttulaatikko! This traditional Finnish festival food dish represents the greatest connection that I have to my family’s immigration story. My grandfather, Leo, came from Finland in 1922 with his parents. He turned six years old on the boat, going to a place so foreign to them. On the boat, they tried to eat corn on the cob with a fork and knife, and they had no idea how to peel a banana. American culture was so new. They settled in the Boston, MA area near some other Finnish family. While my current family doesn’t uphold many Finnish traditions, we eat Lanttulaatikko on Thanksgiving every year. It’s not very flavorful nor does it have a pleasant texture, yet Lanttulaatikko has a special place in my heart. We shout its name as a cheer for joy at the table, making all newcomers try to say it for the first time. I have seen many new people come to Thanksgiving over the year, but I haven’t seen more than two be able to do it correctly on their first try. This dish reminds me of my mom’s side of the family who gets together multiple times a year for the large crowds at gatherings. My mother always told me as a child that I reminded her a lot of her father in our mannerisms, as well as shared interests. His first name, Leo, is my middle name. I try to live my life in the positive way that he lived his. Lanttulaatikko creates an atmosphere at our Thanksgiving table and is probably the only thing in my life that directly reminds me of Finland.

Place(s): Boston, MA and Helsinki, Finland
Year: 1922

– Jesse Cohen-Lindfors

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant