Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Kräftskiva - The Swedish Tradition of Crayfish Parties

Have you heard about this?

Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in Sweden. Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, by law limited to late summer. The celebrations are now a vital part of Swedish summer where dining is usually outdoors and customary party accessories are comical paper hats, paper lanterns and bibs.

Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the 16th century. For a long while, only the aristocracy partook of these delicacies, but in the last 100 years, crayfish became a national delicacy and all Swedes began celebrating the occasion. In the mid-19th century, people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today. The very few who have private access, of course, catch their own crayfish. The little creatures are night animals, so fishing has to be done after dark. They are caught in wire traps and the bait is often rotten or raw fish.

A traditional Kräftskiva

The preparation of the crayfish involves the crayfish being boiled in salt water and seasoned with fresh dill — preferably “crown dill” harvested after the plant has flowered — then served cold and eaten with the fingers. Bread, mushroom pies, strong Västerbotten cheese, salads, and other dishes are served buffet-style. Akvavit and other kinds of snaps are served, as well as beer. At Madsen we stock two kinds of Aalborg Akavavit and the Swedish OP Anderson.You eat crayfish cold, with your fingers, and sucking noisily to extract the juices is perfectly acceptable behaviour!

Well, I am going to sample this at Madsen Scandinavian restaurant. Anyone wants to join me?

Party from August 19 to September 14, 2009. It's £29.75 and includes seven menu items, not just the crayfish, such as handmade smoked salmon canapes, dil marinated crayfish, Swedish Vasterbotten Cheese, New potatoes and mixed leaves, Seasonal mushroom quiche.

Best enjoyed with a shot of O.P. Anderson or Skåne Akvavit, not to forget the refreshing Nils Oscar beer from Nyköping.

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