July 31, 2010

Crayfish Party

It's just a week left until the traditional start of crayfish season (August 8th), which is celebrated by Swedes with a crayfish party... kräftskiva in Swedish. This is one of Sweden's most enduring and beloved gastronomical traditions. These days crayfish are imported from countries like the US, Turkey and China and are sold year-round, but the tradition of eating them in August endures. The party is celebrated with friends and family, hopefully outdoors (weather permitting), with colorful tablecloths, plates and paper lanterns. Revelers usually wear bibs and funny paper hats. The crayfish are cooked in a salty brine, seasoned with dill and served cold. Along with the crayfish one usually eats bread, strong cheese and other delicacies such as Västerbotten cheese pies. The traditional drink is beer and snaps(akvavit), and along with the snaps you generally sing songs called snapsvisor. At the very least, you raise your glass, look into the eyes of everyone at the table, say "skål" (pronounced skoal), drink and then look everyone in the eyes again before setting your glass down. Eating the bright-red little critters is a messy affair... you eat them with your fingers, the only acceptable utensils being a nut cracker and a long prong to get at the meat in the claws. Don't be surprised to hear Swedes noisily sucking all the juices from the crayfish!

If you don't have any Swedish friends to invite you home for a crayfish party, all is not lost... there are several restaurants in town that have crayfish on the menu in August. You might not be able to experience decorations and party-attire, but you will get a taste of the tradition that many Swedes wait all year for! Here is a list of some of the restaurants:

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