Focus Marc Aulén and The Helsinki Book 21st November 2016
The Helsinki Book is a brand new guidebook to the cool capital of Finland. Anni had a quick chat with the author, Marc Aulén, about the book and his relationship with Helsinki. Please also check out the Helsinki Book web pages for more information about this great new opus.
Marc, I’ve understood that you were not born in Helsinki. What brought you here in the first place?
— My father used to work for Ford Motor Company. We had to move around a lot, from one country to another, wherever his services as finacial advisor were needed. It was not a good way to grow up, always having to leave friends, neighbors and schools behind and to have to start from zero in a new country time and time again. The gypsy life just ended in Finland, where both my parents were born. I’ve been here for around forty odd years now but I still don’t feel that I’ve found my roots yet. I have no idea where I’ll end up!
Many Helsinkians know you from your fantastic soup kitchen that you established in the Hakaniemi Market Hall. Today you run a lunch restaurant, Qulma (www.qulma.fi) by name, known for it’s outstanding soups. Tell me a bit about your food philosophy and your approach to good living.
— I have to admit that I’m a bit of a slob in the kitchen but I do have a gift in finding a really good balance of flavours while cooking. I always cook for myself. I love the expressiion “If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one” and try to stick to this in whatever I do. As for good living: Keep things simple, eat and drink well, sleep enough and love a lot!
You are a chef but The Helsinki Book is a guidebook for visitors. What led you to write it?
— I just had an urge to offer the way I see Helsinki to as many tourists as possible. I get asked a lot by tourists who come over, what to do, where to go and what to see, so I suppose that this was the main reason why I needed to write The Helsinki Book. I also felt that this coffee table book had to be written for “the man on the street” with a normal travelling budget. For some strange reason, I’ve noticed that traveller guides seem to love recommending the high end of what’s on offer. The expensive nightclubs and fancy fine dining. You won’t find any of these places mentioned in The Helsinki Book.
What makes Helsinki so special in your view?
— Helsinki has a beautiful coastline and one could say that everything here is within walking distance. It’s a clean city where everything works. We have a very good transport system and a whole lot of restaurants and pubs. You’ll be fine here if you speak English (even though verbal communication maybe isn’t one of the biggest strengths of a Finn). Helsinki has a lot of cool stuff to offer it’s visitors!