Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Swedish crayfish comes to London!

It’s early autumn and for us Swedes that means crayfish party time! This year The Swedish Chamber of Commerce kicked off its autumn events program with a crayfish extravaganza onboard the RS Hispaniola moored off the Embankment in London.

Delicious crayfish

The VisitSweden office here in London, and some lovely guests headed down to the Embankment and bravely ‘walked the plank’ across to the RS Hispaniola and were met by a ship in full crayfish decoration. Crayfish inspired paper lanterns shaped like the moon and crayfish bunting lit up the unseasonable warm August evening.

After a glass of Pimms on deck with Big Ben and the London Eye as a beautiful backdrop we all headed downstairs to dig into those delicious crayfish.

Swedish crayfish comes to London

Now if you have never been to one of these parties, there are a few things worth knowing:
  1. You will get messy, crayfish juice gets everywhere so don’t be embarrassed about wearing the provided bib or spraying your neighbour as you crack a crayfish claw!
  2. You must wear the silly crayfish hat!
  3. You must join in with the drinking songs, despite not knowing the words or the melodies
  4. Schnapps drinking I guess could be seen as optional in extreme circumstances but the singing will definitely improve with each shot of aquavit and your fellow party goers will appear so much better looking and funnier after a few shots.
We were served a traditional crayfish menu consisting of crayfish, quiche, salad, bread and cheese. You eat your crayfish with your fingers and making loud sucking noice to get to the delicious juices is perfectly acceptable. 
Crayfish party!  
To eat the crayfish you can use either a sort of nut cracker to crack the shell or just your teeth (though be careful if the shell is hard!). You can then eat as much or as little of the crayfish as you like but the more you eat the better of course.

The tables fell silent for a few minutes as we all tried to get to grips with how to crack open our crayfish but it didn’t take long until a clinking of glasses told us that now it is time for the first song. After clearing our throats and making sure our schnapps glasses were filled with delicious Skåne aquavit, we all joined in to sing “Helan går”, phonetically translated to the rather ghastlier sounding ”Hell and Gore” in English, the most well-known drinking song in Sweden.
Crayfish decorations
We had the option of singing it in Swedish or English which made for an interesting mix of both tunes and lyrics.

Here are the lyrics in Swedish:

Helan går
sjung hoppfaderallanlallanlej
helan går,
sjung hoppfaderallanlej.
Och den som inte helan tar
han ej heller halvan får;
Helan går!
Sjung hoppfaderallanlej.

And in English:

Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Oh handsome in the hell and tar
and hell are in the half and four
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley

One of the drinking songs, photo by Dave Lorch

The evening carried on with more slurping, cracking of crayfish shells and a lot of singing and drinking, until we all happily staggered off the boat at just before midnight, some still clutching a crayfish hat and wearing their bibs.

We had our two lovely social media and now of course crayfish fans Ailbhe and Dave who tweeted throughout the evening at #crayfish

You can also follow them on www.twitter.com at:




Don’t miss Ailbhe’s fantastic blog http://www.simplysplendiferous.com/

Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the 16th century. For a long while, only the aristocracy partook of these delicacies, as popular suspicion of shellfish was widespread. Originally, crayfish meat was used for sausage, ragout, patties or puddings.

Skåne aquavit
In the mid-19th century, people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today. The crayfish feast or crayfish supper in the month of August spread through the middle classes. In the 20th century, crayfish became a national delicacy and people in all sectors of society began celebrating the occasion.

It’s a whole year now until our next crayfish party but we will continue to bring you Swedish food to London. Keep checking this blog for a post of our next food event that takes place tomorrow night!

Crayfish table decorations
Here’s an article I found about crayfish in The Telegraph this morning:

1 comment:

  1. Crayfish parties sound like fun, hope I get invited to one one day as I wouldn't know where to start if I wanted to host one myself!