If anyone can sing the praises of langoustines, it’s me. Because langoustines are among my favorite foods. Newly boiled and still warm, fresh from a liquid to which a tiny amount of porter has been added to bring out the natural sweetness of the shellfish. And what about freshwater crayfish? Yes, please! Cooked with heaps of dill, they brighten up the crayfish party with their cheery red color.
Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party, is one of Sweden’s most unique and fabulous traditions!
Crayfish parties are mostly held during the month of August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, legally limited to late summer. For more information on the history of Crayfish parties, check out our previous blog-post on the subject. Today, the kräftpremiär – crayfish premier- date in early August has no legal significance. Also, the crayfish parties nowadays often continue into late September.
It all started in 1878, in the lake Hjälmaren, where over-fishing of crayfish threatened the survival of the species. A ban was imposed, which later spread to other parts of Sweden. It was not permitted to catch crayfish from the 1 November until the 7 August, which meant that the 8 August became the first day of the crayfish season. Even though the ban has long since been removed, Swedish people continue to start catching crayfish – and hold crayfish parties! – on 8 August every year. The date was probably chosen because crayfish shed their shells two to three times during the summer as they grow in size, during which they hide under stones and are extremely difficult to catch.