Dinner at the Taskinen Home

Saturday, February 10, 1996 - 7:30 - 11:00 PM:

Saturday evening after his sauna Mr. Napoli joined Hannu and Sirpa Taskinen and their guests for a wonderful traditional Finnish dinner and some lively conversation.The guests included Maija Berndtson, Director, and Sirkka Svedberg, Deputy Director, of the Helsinki City Library; Pentti Vattulainen, Director of Finland's National Repository Library and his wife Kristiina Vattulainen, a Librarian at the Helsinki City Library; and Mikael Böök, Managing Director of Katto-Meny Cooperative Society

Dinner at Taskinen Home-1 From left to right:
Pentti Vattulainen
Director, National Repository Library

Sirkka Svedberg
Deputy Director, Helsinki City Library

Hannu Taskinen,
Principal Librarian
for Public Libraries in Finland

Mrs. Kristiina Vattulainen
Helsinki City Librarian & Pentti's wife

Mikael Böök
Managing Director of Katto-Meny

Maija Berndtson
Director, Helsinki City Library;

Sirpa Taskinen. Ph. D.,
author & Hannu's wife

Photo by Don Napoli using SJCPL's digital camera

The meal began with a dry French sparkling wine and an appetizer - a salad of blinis with roe of muikku (a small species of white fish), raw onion and smetana, a Russian type sour cream. This was followed with roasted raindeer filets with lingonberry / red currant jam, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, rye and white bread, all served with the sparking French wine and a South African Pinotage red wine which had a very nice flavor. Dessert was a parfait of Finnish berries which ripen slowly during the long northern summer days that Finland has, and they had a most delicious aroma. This was followed by coffee, cognac and chocolates.

The above photo was e-mailed back to staff while Mr. Napoli was still in Finland. Unfortunately, several staff members wondered about the amount of drinking that went on at the meal based on the absence of food and the quantity of glasses on the dining room table. Mr. Napoli assured his staff upon returning that much excellent, good food was consumed during the meal and the photo was taken after most of the food, but not all of the drinks, were consumed.

For a description of the gastronomy of Finland, see Anna-Maija Tanttu's article written for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

From left to right:

Sirpa Taskinen
Don Napoli
Pentti Vattulainen
Sirkka Svedberg

Dinner at TAskinen's-2
Photo by M. Taskinen using SJCPL's digital camera

Conversation covered many topics and not just those concerning public libraries. Topics ranged from the present high unemployment rate in Finland (about 18%) compared to that of the United States (about 9%) to concerns about the dramatic increasing usage of large metropolitan public libraries by persons from outside of the library's taxing district.

Not all the topics were so serious, of course. Several humorous discussions came up and intermingled themselves with those more serious. One of the interesting (but admittedly laughable) discussions was whether or not Library Directors like Don Napoli (or perhaps even Maija Berndtson, as suggested once to Mr. Napoli by Mikael Böök in an e-mail message) should send back digital pictures of themselves in swimming suits while on vacation at the beach to be placed on the Library's web pages (Mr. Napoli actually did this on one of his many trips with his family to Ocean City, Maryland, and it created quite a stir among his Library staff at home in South Bend.)

Everyone appeared to have a very pleasant evening and departed with smiles and laughter at about 11:00 PM. Mr. Napoli was driven back to his hotel by Hannu's son, Arto, after another long, but enjoyable third day in Finland.

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Created 3/20/96; Last Modified 3/22/96