The sight of a mound of crayfish (or crawfish) in a Sofitel function room brought me back to Sweden.
One summer long ago, on the last day of a visit to Sweden, tents were set up on the road leading to the Royal Palace. Our host said that there would be a crayfish festival that evening.
Before leaving, I wanted to see what was in the tents. On a table in each tent was a big tray filled with a mound of small red crayfish.
Why our hosts thought such a festival would not be interesting to us was a mystery, considering they had wined and dined us in the best places in Stockholm.
We feasted on reindeer meat and salmon.
I imagined the crustacean meal would’ve been more enjoyable with aquavit (distilled liquor) or beer, with drinking songs of Swedes (incidentally, rendered by our hosts every night in their deep bass voices).
What I missed back then may now be experienced at the “Crayfish Party” at Sofitel Philippine Plaza on Sept. 14.
The crayfish will be flown in from the Nordic waters, facilitated by the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Asia (NordCham Philippines). There will be free-flowing beer, with classic Abba songs playing.
Spirit of fun
It seeks to capture the spirit of fun at the crayfish festival of Scandinavian and Baltic countries held at summer’s end— a tradition that goes back to the 16th century. The harvest of crayfish is prohibited except for a couple of months starting August.
At the tasting during the crayfish party was where I had my first taste of Nordic crayfish. The flesh was sweet, juicy and fresh.
There was no need for some of us to be taught how to eat the crustaceans. It’s much like disassembling shrimps— with your bare hands, remove the head, suck the sweet fat from it, then remove the body shell.
When our host, NordCham Philippines president Bo Lundqvist, asked if it tasted like anything I’ve had before, I said no. It was tempting to tell him the reason, but I was enjoying myself immensely.
The sense of fun was enhanced, no doubt, by the aquavit and I remembered how we were taught in Sweden to not sip it like wine—instead drink it in one gulp.
Lundqvist, who represents all the Nordic companies in the Philippines, came in a Viking costume complete with a two-horned helmet. He announced that proceeds from the crayfish party will go to the Chosen Children Village in Cavite that provides housing and education to children who are physically and mentally challenged.
We also tasted other food that will be a part of the party, like Swedish meatballs with gravy mixed with sour cream; gravlax or raw salmon cured in salt and sugar; different cheeses and sausages.