The slaughter, the carnage, the aftermath: nothing prepared me for my first Kräftskiva (Crayfish Fest). I hustled trays and trays of the blood red beasts to our hungry guests. The bugs disappeared as quickly as I set the platters down. Two hundred happy eaters slurped and sucked, and collectively discarded empty scarlet carcasses amass. Several Swedish drinking songs and many shots of snaps later the diners slowly wobbled out into the warm August night, some still singing, some still dancing, and all of them smiling.
We servers sighed with relief and spent the next hour clearing tables of their sticky piles. Like every surface of the dining room, we too were saturated with crayfish juice and spilled beer. There is a good reason IKEA sells paper tableware for crayfish parties.
I was rewarded well for my efforts that night. The cook sent me home with several pails of crayfish. I ate the first bucket standing over the sink, and I remain unapologetic for this act. The second batch was handled with slightly more dignity. With sharp shears and a tweezers I removed every bit of edible meat from tiny crevices and chubby tails and added the crayfish to my favorite childhood treat. My mom always made a shrimp version of this salad on the hottest days of summer.