2016 The Decent Ingredient
orig. Säädyllinen ainesosa

The year 1956. Saara has moved to Helsinki because of her husband’s work. The house wife, who has suspended her studies, has time for her son, Elias, and Juhani seems to enjoy his work. Everything is going well. Or at least better than it did back then.

Elisabeth, who lives upstairs from Saara, throws culture parties, loves food and writes long letters to her friend, Izzy. As the two women befriend each other, a new world opens before Saara’s eyes – it is a world she has only read about in thriller books. Elisabeth is everything that Saara isn’t: fashionable, independent, a citizen of the world. And a spy.

Leena Parkkinen’s third novel, The Decent Ingredient, is a spectacular description of life in the bourgeois neighbourhood of Töölö. And of food – of all the different things it means to Saara and Elisabeth. Love, fear – and hidden messages.

Publisher, Finland: Teos
Published: April 2016
Pages: 335

"If you are at all interested in food, love, secret agents or greatly told stories, you really ought to read Leena Parkkinen’s Decent Ingredient. Parkkinen’s third novel is so delicious that it can be predicted to be named by many as the best Finnish read of the year." Aamulehti

“From the first page onwards, I became absorbed in that almost unbearably pleasurable reading frenzy that Parkkinen served in the world and characters she created. The Decent Ingredient was a sinfully good novel, the reading of which you cannot stop once you’ve begun. […] The big themes of the book – friendship, love, sexuality, motherhood, gender roles, social class divide and even some aspects of the Finnish post-war political landscape – are bound by a shared love for food. The Decent Ingredient is an exhilarating praise for gastronomy […] In the novel, food means everything. It reflects love, freedom, life, joy and fears, it contains secret messages, and makes The Decent Ingredient such a dazzling and enchanting book that I can easily declare that I have just read one of the best Finnish novels of the year.” P.S. I love books -blog

“Parkkinen is at her best when she describes the relationships between people. Saara’s clinging to Elisabeth is moving. And Elisabeth’s ruthlessness is annoying. The longing of two women’s bodies for one another has been beautifully depicted.” Helena Ruuska / Helsingin Sanomat

“Leena Parkkinen is one of those writers whose text you are allowed to expect a lot of. And she does not fail you this time, either. The Decent Ingredient is a multi-layered story that must be carefully read, up until the last clause, in order to understand everything that Parkkinen is telling us.” Etelä-Saimaa