It’s August, and in Sweden that means it’s crayfish party time. If you’re new to the country or just haven’t had enough practice with crayfish etiquette, an invite can bring on some anxiety. This handy guide will help you survive the ordeal.
1. Hope for a demonstration
Crayfish are tasty little creatures but figuring out how to eat them can be challenging. One needs to get behind the pesky shell to get at the meat and good stuff. And, different people have different methods of getting into it.
An easy way to begin is by twisting each of the claws clockwise at the base of the arms so they break off. Do this before sucking the juices out from them and removing the small pieces of meat inside.
Next, it’s time for the body itself. This is where most methods tend to differ. The goal is to separate the tail from the head. Once you’ve done so, you must decide whether you enjoy eating brains.
It’s very common to suck them out from the head section. Alternately, put that to one side and peel the shell from the tail by breaking and pulling it away, starting close to the legs. Once you’ve finished, the biggest piece of meat will be exposed.
Does this sound too complicated? For first timers it can be, but a little practice and you’ll get the hang of it. Most party hosts are happy to help their guests and will produce a quick run-through before everyone starts eating. Make sure to pay attention!
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Crayfish parties are messy affairs, there’s no way around it. In addition, Swedes also like to make these parties as silly as possible.
Many of these parties have tacky decorations, embarrassing bibs and strange cone-shaped hats which are often decorated with the very animal you are eating.
If you think you’re too cool to put on some cardboard hats then you may as well not bother turning up in the first place. If the Swedes around you will all have something on their heads, then so should you.
If you fail to join in it will only draw more attention your way. You will likely already be the least skilful crayfish eater at the table, so this may not be a good thing. Do not take yourself so seriously, just stick that hat on, hope your head isn’t so oversized the cheap elastic breaks and enjoy yourself. This is fun.
3. Get ready to sing
You’re making slurping noises that humans aren’t supposed to emit, you’re wearing a stupid hat, and you’ve finally started to relax over the whole crayfish party concept. But there’s more fun.
Singing! It’s not important to be good at it.
You may get out of this if you’re a foreigner because the Swedish guests know the traditional songs, and you likely won’t. So just listen, hum along and enjoy.
4. Stare intensely into the eyes of your host when making a toast
Swedes really do love shellfish. But just like many other parties, a crayfish party as an event that is also linked to the copious amounts of alcohol. There are some rules if you’re drinking at a Swedish party though. When making a toast, everyone is expected to look one another in the eye when raising their glass.
5. Be a good sport
Once the singing has grown old, the food is gone and most of the alcohol consumed, the party may not be over. In Sweden, party games are quite popular. You may just find you’ll be separated into teams with other guests for something competitive.
When the weather is nice, you could end up playing Kubb. This is a lawn-based game that involves throwing wooden batons to knock over blocks from a distance. Cards are another popular game if the weather doesn’t allow you to be outdoors.
Whatever it is, approach it with enthusiasm. It’s participating that counts.