The beginning of August sees the beginning of the much anticipated Scandinavian crayfish season. We visited Scandi Kitchen to see how a real crayfish party (or kräftskiva) is done.
It all started back at the turn of 20th Century when middle-class Swedes enjoyed their bountiful crayfish supplies to excess. As with too much of any good thing, the law came down hard, and restrictions were put in place meaning that they could only catch crayfish during the month of August. So, when the end of the summer neared and the crayfish ban was lifted for a month, the Swedes would celebrate with totally cray (hah!) crayfish parties.
The main components of a crayfish party are simple. Aquavit, crayfish, songs and a strong stomach.
Aquavit is the traditional drink of Scandinavia - often flavoured with dill, caraway or fennel - the perfect match for salty crayfish tails. Like other nations, the Swedes and Finns struggle to drink in moderation almost as much as they struggle to drink without singing. Therefore every couple of mouthfuls of crayfish you manage to peel, suck and consume (through a drunken haze) there is a rendition of a traditional song before the 'skål' (or cheers).
What's more everyone round the table is fully encouraged to wear a crayfish hat and bib. Leave your dignity at the door
put on one hell of a party. At the helm was Jonas, geeing up the guests into singing 'Helan Går' an every opportune moment, with aquavit shot in hand. And making sure that the aquavit was soaked up was Bronte, passing round multiple platters of crayfish piled high, freshly baked Vasterbotten paj, pickled herring, gravadlax, beetroot salad, crisp breads...the list goes on. We left with our bellies full of Scandi treats, and our bags full of leftover crayfish!
Scandi Kitchen introduced us to the joys of a proper kräftskiva in their cool cafe, surrounded by an amazing selection of Scandinavia finest food and drink. If you haven't visited, then do. Here's our top tips on how to do your very own party at home...
1. Buy your guests silly hats
and while you're at it silly bibs
(modelled by Jonas).
2. Choose some aquavit
. Lots and lots of aquavit.
3. Now some stodgy food to soak up the booze, like Norwegian Vasterbotten
, Leksands crisp breads
, Scandi Kitchen beetroot salad
and Abba herring
in sweet mustard.
4. Next decorate
your home to look like the inside of Abba's dressing room.
5. And finally, whatever you do, don't forget the crayfish