On my first crayfish party
My boyfriend has told me already before I came to Finland that his father would traditionally like to give a small crayfish party also this year and that he asked if we want to come there. Of course I agreed right away that I would love to go there, without even knowing so well what it will be like. I didn't even know if I like crayfish. Why there would be a party about it? But when I was speaking about it at work everybody right away knew about it and some have even been attending one already. It’s a rather traditional thing in Finland during August, I guess. So, basically it's a party where you eat seasonal, fresh - and sometimes self-caught - crayfish and drink schnaps.
My boyfriend’s father knew a lot about crayfish and explained me some details about it: In Finland there are two kinds of crayfish. The river crayfish which is originally from Finland and the spot crayfish which is originally from North America. However, the spot crayfish are more widely spread than the “local” ones. Their taste is equal but the spot crayfish has a harder shell than the river crayfish. Female crayfish can be identified by their scissors and tales, which are bigger than the male’s.
Even though we had a big platter of crayfish we ate a whole additional menu beside, as crayfish are not really satisfying your hunger so much. So we had our own individual crayfish party menu:
After an aperitif we ate Smoked Reindeer Soup from Lapland with toast as a starter.
Then we had the crayfish. The others had to teach me first how to eat it correctly but now I can tell you:
You first take away the legs and suck out the liquid. I don’t remember where exactly the huice is hidden but to make sure that I got everything, I just sucked every end. (Oh this sounds so horrible?!) The sucking can sound (and look!) rather funny, that’s why I’m glad that I felt so familiar with the people I was with, otherwise I would have been horribly embarrassed! When you pull away the scissors from the leg you have to be careful that you don’t hurt yourself, as the scissors can be really sharp. You then pull away the “thumb” and I think you could get some juice from these as well. With that one special tool, you can open the scissors and peel the shell away. There’s the meat. Afterwards you take away the tale from its body and peel it. Also here is some meat. Last thing you do: take one schnaps (or then some special juice :) per each tale.
The crayfish are really slippery and it happens very easily that they can slip out of your hands when you are opening them. Once when I was working on one with force the juice even hit the person opposite me. But luckily we had those paper bibs that came with the Ikea Crayfish Party Kit. Aren't they chic?
If you are patient enough it is recommendable to first peel all the crayfish and then sophisticatedly enjoy it on a toast. It tastes great!
Once all the little fellas were eaten up there were three more dishes to go. We had:
Smoked shrimps with Aioli dip
Ribs with selfmade Barbecue sauce (whose recipe will be secret forever) and salad
And a lovely Pavlova-like dessert with berries.
We finished eating around midnight if I remember correctly. It was really nice when we went outside between the dishes so that my boyfriend’s father could prepare the shrimps and the rips on the grill. We sat under the pavilion in the garden, listening to the rain, how it patters on the roof and every once a while sipping our drinks. In general the whole evening was a great success with everything that it contained. We ate good food, drank well and enjoyed each other’s company. I’m glad and very thankful that I could be a part of it and I’ll always like to think back at my first crayfish party.
Some more pictures:
Text and photos: Anja Kaufmann