It is that time of year again. Not that I'm complaining. I wait all 11 months for this glorious end of summer routine. It begins with our annual trek to the American Swedish Institute for a crayfish feed. Kräftskiva is the best meal of the year, and we celebrate all the flavors, sites, and sounds of summer. 

The skyline (or ceiling if it happens to rain that evening, as it often does) is strung with lights and sunshine lanterns. Everyone wears plastic bibs and funny hats. The tables are lined with sheet music providing the words to a dozen Swedish drinking songs, and our shot glasses are filled with caraway and dill flavored snaps. Along the width of the tables where 200 guests dine is a buffet spilling over with beautiful red crustaceans; mini lobsters but sweeter in taste, served chilled after they are cooked in dill and beer. Platters of pickled vegetables, salads, cheeses, and crispbreads overflow, and it is all I can do to wait patiently for the luscious potato and cheese paj (quiches). One by one, tables are released and we take our place in line to fill our plates and tummies.

Kräftskiva  is a celebration of old Swedish traditions, when the crayfish were abundant in the cool waters off of Sweden's coast. The evening lasts well past dusk, strangers become friends, and we leave the party with voices hoarse from singing and laughing.

In the Twin Cities Kräftskiva signals the end of summer, and it whispers, "The State Fair begins soon."


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