Saturday night I took part in a very Swedish summer tradition: the crayfish party, or kräftskiva, hosted by one of the student nations. (As best as I can understand, the student nations are like a mix of clubs and fraternities, and they comprise most of the social life on campus. I will probably join one soon).
Crayfish look like little lobsters, and taste a lot like shrimp. They are served whole and cold, with lots of dill. You’re supposed to turn them over, suck the dill juice out of the belly, and then eat the claws and the tails; it’s a lot of work. Crayfish are served with mushroom pies (kind of like a quiche in a puff pastry, very tasty) and bread and cheese. And it’s traditional that there are lots of drinking songs, followed by toasts with snaps (schnapps, straight vodka). I just had wine, though.
The Swedish toast is very important, especially in more formal settings. As you raise your glass for the toast, you say “Skål!” (rhymes with “coal”) and make eye contact with everyone at the table. After you finish drinking, you have to make eye contact with everyone one more time.
Anyway, after dinner the dancing began. We danced to all kinds of music; lots of it was old-school stuff that I knew. I haven’t danced since high school, and let me tell you: having a beer to hold while you dance really helps, for two reasons. First, you have been drinking beer, and thus are more likely to actually be dancing. Second, it’s just nice to have something to hold. Gives you something to do with your hands. I danced it up.
After we got tired of dancing, my friend Laura and I played a round of Singstar, which is like Guitar Hero, but karaoke instead of guitar. Then we rode home, in the rain. It was a very satisfactory night.