Tuesday, 1 September 2009

August is for Crayfish

I must confess I have no idea where the tradition for crayfish in Sweden and later Finland comes from. (I hope I've got this the right way around, else I'll have a lynching by Finnish friends, and possibly a deportation order, when I next step off the plane at Helsinki to look forward to.)


All I know is that when I was a little girl, come 1st of August my Father and his friends went off to the river with a strange net basket and bag clanking with bottles (I'd like to think it was beer but fear it may have been vodka) and tried to catch the little fighty devils. They were seldom very successful and we ended up with the bought variety.




Bringing the angry, live crayfish home from market in a brown cardboard box was a frightening experience. As I held them I jumped every time I heard their claws striking the edge of the box, and each other, in a vain attempt to escape. Even then, I was a complete coward when it came to wildlife. I've tried to keep away from anything untamed and dangerous since (not counting men), but I do love a home cooked crayfish.


As well as eating the overnight marinated crayfish, the Finnish/Swedish tradition involves a quantity of dill, toasted bread and cheese. Oh yes, and a few glasses of vodka. And some drinking songs.

Even though in the UK we could get crayfish other times of the year, we like August, and so our annual crayfish party was held a couple of weeks ago. We get the crayfish from a wonderful man who fishes them in a clean, fast flowing stream, leaving the fish naturally washed and ready to cook. But first they have to be transported home, something I no longer get involved in, and leave it to the men of the house. Oddly this arrangement has worked for years now.


When they arrive, we try to cook them straight away. I supervise. I really do not like to get my fingers bitten. Do you see how very unsuited I am to this good life in the country?


However eating them, while singing and drinking vodka, I excel in.

10 comments:

Wildernesschic said...

Love cray fish in fact love all shell fish must try them with vodka as I love that too :))

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Looks like great fun. I love when the food is just laid out before you and everyone reaches in. Makes the meal a party.

oneof365 said...

What a gorgeous spread. Though, I must say I have not eaten fish of any sort in 20 years! I know, I know...I'm missing out. I just can't get into it. I would hate to have to be the poor sucker who has to put them in the boiling water. Do you have to draw straws for that job LOL? By the way, is that your daughter in the pic? She's so pretty! xoxoxoxox --One of 365

Cultural Blonde said...

Ummm crayfish parties are the best! I like your new smart blog. I see that I have lost you as a follower of my blog. Admittedly I abandoned it myself for a month (other things took over) but am back! Liked your Handelsbanken story by the way.

Helena Halme said...

Oneof365, you are such a flatterer! It's meeee in the picture!

dan powell said...

That table looks awesome. My wife and I had our honeymoon in Finland in August way back when we got married. We missed the whole crayfish thing (though the lakes and woodland and all round friendliness of the people we did enjoy) which is a shame as my wife loves shellfish. This looks just like her sort of meal.

Helena Halme said...

Dan, crayfish are really easy to get hold of now, and you can cook them just like any raw shellfish. I'm glad you enjoyed Finland, and were not too bothered by the mozzies?

Midlife Jobhunter, that's why we call them crayfish parties and not suppers! Also makes the entertaining easier on the night...

Helena Halme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helena Halme said...

Cultural Blonde, I don't quite know what's happened. But I can't see you following me either, so perhaps there's a problem? Glad you enjoy my blog anyway, pop in again soon.

PV Lundqvist said...

I love that tradition. In my house the youngest always had to do the toasting of the bread.

That was always me. Darn rules.