WHAT IS KRÄFTSKIVA – CRAYFISH PARTY?
A highlight on the Nordic (especially Swedish) calendar, the ‘kräftskiva’ (crayfish party) is an annual seafood fest with lots of side dishes, drinks and joyous songs – a summertime celebration dear to people of all ages.
Its history stretches back to as early as the 16th century, when it became popular with the royals. In the 17th century, Swedes started eating crayfish on a broader scale. The name kräftskiva was coined in the 1930s and it’s believed to derive from the 19th century bourgeois crayfish ritual ‘kräftsupa’ – involving crayfish and alcoholic drinks. As for the kräftskiva as we know it today, it took off in earnest in the 1960s.
There are some ground rules:
- Crayfish are to be eaten outdoors.
- Both the tablecloth and the colourful plates can also be of paper.
- People wear bibs round their necks and funny little paper hats on their heads.
- Songs are eagerly encouraged – the sillier the better.
Then the feast begins. You eat crayfish cold, with your fingers. Bread and a strong cheese such as mature Västerbotten are eaten on the side. People mostly drink beer and schnapps.
As for the consuming of the delicious crustacean, turn it belly up and suck the brine – slurping is almost mandatory; no need to be polite. Next, wring off the tail and extract the most sought-after part of the crayfish meat using a crayfish knife, then lift the back shield to reveal the delicious “crayfish butter” – a yellowish, butter-like paste found behind the head. The claws are best cracked with a crayfish knife, and the succulent meat can be teased out with a designated, pronged tool – though you’ll manage fine with a fork or your bare hands.
Make sure you have napkins and a finger bowl of lemony water by your side.
Eager to know more, check this out.