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It is August, that means CRAWFISH PARTY!

(Or crayfish as they also are called).

In Sweden, we love our crawfish.

Come August, we are all ready to fight the mosquitoes and sit outside eating crawfish. We would set a rustic table with platters of crawfish, shrimp, sharp cheese pies, hard bread and cheese, beer and lot’s of Vodka. We eat, drink and sing “snaps songs” (drinking songs).

You could just as well have your crawfish party inside. You just need to be  little more careful of not dropping shells on the floor…

Lanterns are hung all over. We also have garlands looking like little crawfish holding hands. It is great. There used to be restrictions of when to start eating them but now you can eat crawfish anytime.

I remember when my father used to catch crawfish.

It was crazy, scary and fun. I used to go with him. He had two different techniques. The easiest would be the common way. One would lay down crawfish cages in the evening. They would have a piece of herring stuck as bait in them. We would go and pick the cages up very early in the morning, around  6 – 7 am. If we were lucky, they would be full of crawfish.

The second and more doubtful version of collecting crawfish would be the crazy way (and I think my dad would be the only one doing it this way).

This version would involve us putting on our bathing suits and going into the lake. My dad and I would lay down in the water and float, using our arms to “walk” on the bottom. We would feel under the stones for crawfish. I would always be scared so I used to poke with a stick. My dad would get mad and say “Stop it, you will hurt them!” “But what about me?” I would answer. The thing is, when the crawfish would pinch your fingers you should just pull them out gently from underneath the stone. It would really hurt… I never liked it. But it was an adventure.

To fish for crawfish this way, there would be a little bit of a logistical obstacle. Where would one but the crawfish??  My brave father solved this in a very clever but  risky way. He would put the crawfish in a plastic bag. SInce his hands were busy “feeling” for more crawfish and “walking” on the bottom of the lake, he would put the plastic bag of crawfish in his trunks. Now that is one brave man!!! And I always said, thank god all 4 of me and my siblings already were “here”…

Anyway, after catching all the crawfish, he would let them loose all over the kitchen floor. All of us kids would escape up on chairs and tables. Scary times and brave parents. What else can I say?

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Västerbottenpaj. ( A sharp cheese pie.)

1 1/2 c. of flour.
1 stick of butter (about 130 gr.)
3 tsp. of cold water.
3 egg.
1 c. heavy cream.
1 c. shredded “Västerbotten” or other sharp cheese, Gruyère for example.
salt

Directions;

Mix butter, flour and water into a dough.

Add the dough to a shallow pie dish, medium size. Start working the dough into the dish.

When dough is well-distributed into the dish, take a fork and make little holes all around the pie shell. Bake it in a 450F (225C) degree oven. for about 10 minutes or until it is just starting to dry up.

Mix the eggs, cream & cheese in a bowl. If needed, add a little salt. Note that the cheeses usually are very salt. Pour into the pre-baked pie-shell. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is starting to turn golden brown on top.

You can eat it like this or decorate it with sour cream and caviar on top. Usually we just eat it plain in thin slices.

Enjoy.

kräftskiva (kraftskiva), or crawfish party is an traditional Swedish festivity. It usually occurs during the late summer in August, during the crawfishing season. The original reason to hold the celebrations in August, is because of the large fishing of crawfish in the late 1900th century. This resulted in a stop for consuming crawfish for the whole year until the crawfish-premiere at the 8th of August. This restriction was lifted in 1994, but the tradition remained and many Swedes still celebrate their kraftskiva around August 8th.In addition to the crawfish many different dishes are served at the ‘crawfish-table’. Much like midsummer, homemade bread, butter and cheese is served. Common is also different pies like cheese-pie, preferably with vasterbotten-cheese. Other dishes served is for instance various pasta-salads, potato-salad, green salad and cold sauces like aioli or Thousand Island Dressing. For dessert, strawberries with whipped cream and / or vanilla ice-cream is common.To drink at the kraftskiva, beer is most common. You will also find the ‘nubbe’, which is schnapps. Preferred kinds are nubbe flavoured with elder, Aquavit and for instance Absolut Vodka. Before each nubbe, everyone attending is supposed to sing a ‘nubbevisa’ which means schnapps-song.If you’d like to try a Swedish kräftskiva or crayfish-party at home, here are some recipes to try. Like midsummer the kräftskiva is held outdoors at a long table or ‘langbord’ to fit in everyone attending at the same table.

Ikea has a huge Crawfish party once a year. It is not really a traditional party but it works. As long as they have the crawfish I am fine. The Swedes sing songs, drink some smuggled wine and snaps and eat lot’s of crawfish.

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