American Swedish Institute: Kräftskivor!

Saturday at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis proved that Minnesotans are not always standoffish among strangers. Throw us together at a communal table any other night of the year and we might implode, but at annual kräftskivor (crayfish parties) we commune with one another like long-lost friends at a happy reunion.

I won't downplay the bounty of thirst quenching beer, wine, and shots of icy aquavit acting to ease our social inhibitions. Certainly a beautiful summer night outdoors with breezes cooling us after a hot humid afternoon improves moods. And I cannot undervalue the food. Who can maintain social distance while wearing a plastic bib and ridiculous party hat and hovering over a plate of crayfish; slurping the juices, sucking the tender meat, and using teeth to crack claws? Polite conventions are discarded as quickly as a bowl full of crayfish shells.

Add a few rousing drinking songs (in Swedish, of course) and dozens of skols (with aquavit, of course) and the evening becomes an intimate party of several hundred. Same time next year, dear friends!



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