When the full moon shines from the sky in August, it’s time to get hold of some crayfish and have a traditional Swedish kräftskiva (crayfish party).
Eating crayfish is nothing new in Sweden. The custom was brought here from the continent in the 17th century. It used to be the upper classes who feasted on crayfish, but towards the end of the 1960’s crayfish began to be imported from countries like Turkey, Spain and China. This meant that more and more people could buy them, and so the traditional crayfish party was born.
The Swedish word fot a crayfish party is ”kräftskiva”. ”Skiva” – a board – refers to a rough-and-ready table loaded with food and drink.
Nordiska Museet says that it used to be forbidden to fish for crayfish between November and 7th August, and that is why many people still wait until August before eating crayfish, although the ban was lifted in 1994.
The crayfish are boiled in salted water, but they are eaten cold, along with baguettes, rye crispbread and cheese flavoured with cumin seeds. Västerbotten flan is usually served as well. The traditional drinks are snaps and beer. And another essential part of the fun is ”snapsvisor”, traditionally sung to every toast.
August is also the time to eat surströmming. Surströmming are fermented small Baltic herring, and they have a very special smell which some find dellicate and others find disgusting. They are mostly associated with the north of Sweden, but they are eaten all over the country along with very thin crispbread, raw chopped onion and perhaps a snaps too.
If you want to eat surströmming, our advice is to open the tin out of doors. The ”perfume” can hang around for a long time.