Just 30 years ago, only the most adventurous Europeans had tried sushi. In general, the attitudes towards this Japanese cuisine were confused: do they actually eat the fish raw?
Today, there is a sushi restaurant in every shopping centre, and the thought of sushi as an exotic dish can seem strange. This is proof of a rapid change in food culture, says David Inglis, a recently appointed professor of sociology at the University of Helsinki.
“Food is an interesting topic, as it is so much a part of our daily lives and changes constantly. It’s also a good example of how we keep looking for new influences in the world. Trend-setters are no longer interested in Japanese food – they prefer Indonesian. Meanwhile, some very old or low-income people have never tasted sushi in their lives.”
Inglis is from Scotland and considers Finland highly interesting for research.
“Let’s take wine as an example. For a long time, Finns drank beer and spirits, and wine was a hobby for the relatively small upper class. But everything has changed in just a couple of decades: the selections in Alko have broadened, and people are buying wines from more exotic wine regions.”
“My plan is to study how things began to develop in the 1990s.”
And the development has not stopped. Inglis believes that the next big trend will be orange wines, which are made as usual from wine grapes but have a distinctive orange colour and unusual taste.
“They are still relatively unknown, but a few trend-setting restaurants in Helsinki are serving them. They will soon spread to a wider market.”
As a sociologist, Inglis’ main interest is long-term change. But lately he has found himself thinking about a rapid, surprising change: Brexit.
“It makes me very sad. One of the reasons why I wanted to come to Finland is that I want to stay European.”
According to Inglis, the Finnish media has only depicted one side of Brexit.
“We only hear the perspective from London. I’d like to write about what people in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions think about the separation.”