- Margaret Rodriguez
- BBC News World
About three years ago, chef Jiri Ronka planned a big trip.
At home in Finland, he took a world map and began to look carefully.
“I visited many countries, including Brazil and Venezuela, and discovered that the capital was Caracas,” he told BBC Mundo.
It caught his attention because one of his favorite rock bands had the same name.
“It simply came to our notice then Heavy metal. We hear different music in Finnish kitchens, “he jokes.
After a while, not having decided yet whether he would go to South America, he snatched up his savings and set out on his adventure.
“I had the idea of having to go surfing for a year. I traveled through Europe and went to Bali, Indonesia.”
There, his life takes an unexpected turn.
In the Asian country, he stayed in a hotel.
“Someone told me that a Venezuelan woman was staying there and I said: ‘Aha, Venezuela, how sexyI know nothing about Venezuela and I have never met anyone from that country. How can that be? “.
He met Elijah, danced with her and fell in love with her.
“When I looked at that map, I could not have imagined I would have a Venezuelan girlfriend. Who would have thought?”
Due to the epidemic, they had to stay in Indonesia for a year.
But once the travel restrictions were lifted, they quickly packed their bags.
“I never thought of coming to Venezuela.”
Also, after a year of living there, he expresses his charisma: “I love being here.”
“Venezuela’s best thing is its people, Which is wonderful. I met wonderful people. ”
“For me, Venezuela is a paradise in its own way. I have everything I want: my work, my beach, my surfing, my people, my good times.”
Over the years, Finland, with a population of 5.5 million, has been declared the happiest country in the world: it ranks first in the United Nations-funded rankings.
Classification, also known as World Happiness ReportThe citizens of each country are based on their own happiness and assessment of the economic and social parameters of their countries.
In a recent report covering 146 countries, Venezuela was included Level 108.
Ronka grew up in a region in northern Europe and has recorded high levels of personal wealth for decades. Low inequality, And has a strong welfare state.
“In Finland, there is a good system, everything works, people are happy, but they do not show it.” When you say “like that” open your arms wide.
He describes Venezuela as “very welcoming, open and talkative.”
“It’s completely different from how people are in Finland,” he explains.
“I think we’re not so open because of the weather.”
In winter, in some areas, the temperature drops -45 degrees centigrade.
“The weather here is very perfect, it’s like a very perfect summer day in Finland.”
“There, spring is my favorite time of year. The snow starts to melt, everything starts to grow, and people feel happy, after coming out of the winter.”
So, according to him, “Venezuela feels like a beautiful spring after a long, cold winter. It’s all about its people, its weather, its beaches.”
“Culturally we are different, for example, the distance between strangers on the street is about two meters. Not here.”
“We are a cool country not only in terms of weather, but also in terms of personality. But we have a good role to play and that is why we are truly loyal and you can trust us.”
“If you’ve been friends with a fin, That friendship will last a lifetimeThat person will do anything for you. “
His comrades exemplify his empathy and love for the deeds they do and for life.
Interested in cooking
Ronka began his culinary career 16 years ago.
“I’m 21 years old and I do not know what to do with my life.”
He finished his military service and moved to Australia, where he said, “I worked in restaurants and kitchens, and I realized I was. Cold The job I had. “
He lived in that country for two years, during which time his “cooking skills improved significantly.”
And, “In the kitchen experience, with the friends I made, I fell in love with what I learned.”
On his return to Finland he studied cooking at the Helsinki Culinary School and qualified Chief ChefHead chef at Omnia University in the capital.
He worked in restaurants in that city for 11 years until he started his journey.
His favorite food was “smoked roasted wild goose breast raspberry compote, caramelized onion cake, brown and white wine sauce and mashed cauliflower.”
His first recipe, which he created 15 years ago at a restaurant in Finland, is a dessert he still makes: “Lemon cream broccoli with banana zucchini, lemon leaf foam, lemoncross-marinated fruit and chocolate chili sauce.”
Works as Freelancer And his aides are Venezuelans.
“I cook individual dinners for groups. I go home and prepare four to seven meals. He also attends restaurant events.”
Its purpose is not only to serve delicious food, but also to experience what guests take A little history Behind the food they tasted.
“I could make arabesque, though my girlfriend did them better,” he says with a smile.
He wants to learn the technique that his ancestors used to make them a few hundred years ago.
“I like Arebas. First of all, this is a very healthy bread that everyone in the world should eat arabas. ”
Ronka specializes in what they call modern Nordic cuisine, which he explains is a new expression of Scandinavian cuisine that began in Denmark in 2004.
“I use a lot of fish, seafood, vegetables, meat and tools Ancient cooking techniques Smoking, soaking, curing, fermenting, preservation “.
“These are new flavors for the Venezuelan people, but as delicate as their food.”
“If you think about pavilion, arabas, kachabas, they are not so strong flavors, especially when compared to Asian or Mexican dishes.”
“Nordic foods do not use very spicy ingredients, as happens in Venezuela.”
He says he tries to provide the flavors of his land “as much as possible” in his dishes.
He uses local food and salmon, berries from Chile and other products brought from Finland.
However, he is preparing to enter a new gastronomic phase: creating a menu with only Venezuelan ingredients.
day by day
He enjoys going to and from El Avila Mountains and National Parks around Caracas. But he knew it was important to be careful.
Insecurity and high crime rates are one of the main concerns of many Venezuelans.
“My girlfriend’s family is very safe, and like many in Venezuela, they know how to move, where to go, what to do.”
“I learned to be like this“It shows how different it is in Finland, which is classified as a safe country,” he says.
“My girlfriend’s family did not allow me to go to dangerous places. They taught me where to go. I feel safe.”
He tells me that drugs are expensive and in general medicine is very expensive.
In the Caracas area where he lives, he says power outages – which have affected various parts of the country for years – are not frequent.
To ensure the availability of water throughout the week, be sure to fill the tanks at home.
And for many Venezuelans, supply problems and water shortages are a source of pain.
In March, a study by NGO Monitor Ciudad revealed that Caracas residents were spending. 100 hours per week There is no water in your pipes.
Ronka has many goals in mind.
“I hope to be able to work in a restaurant like this in the future Chief Chef“And dreams of opening his own company.
I mean, he says, “Venezuela will not stop surprising me“.
“There are always new things to experience. I’ve been there a year, discovering new things. This is a very fast moving country.”
“I loved Venezuela because of its people, the way they got used to it, it’s wonderful.”
“I’ve traveled to many countries, and nowhere in Las Caracas (beach) does that happen: people talk to you about anything and share what they have with strangers.”
“For example, I met a guy who works in a food preparation company for an airline and he said, ‘Oh, you’re a chef! We’ve looking for an executive chef I work for, are you interested?’
“It only happens here. It’s hard to describe, something very special I’ve seen here.”
He is thankful for the life of knowing “these beautiful lands”.
For this reason, he decided to stay in Venezuela with his girlfriend.
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