...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Food journal number 4: Chickpea soup and crayfish

I know, I know, it's about food again! This time the food is really something unique, though, at least for me, since I have never had chickpea soup with mustard or crayfish before. Cheer up, Cheryl! You're not the only one eating a lot this week!

Chickpea soup, with a dash of oregano and a glop of mustard.

I just wanted to write about how some food, like this chickpea soup (again one of those old-style healthy dishes)--and below, the crayfish-- can have some pretty interesting traditions attached to them. This chickpea soup, for example, is not only traditionally served with mustard (and sweet mustard at that) and thin pancakes; it is also customarily eaten only on Thursdays (don't ask me why!). In homes, cafeterias and even in pre-made military lunches... yep, you guessed it!... it's only served on Thursdays! (Need I tell you on what day we ate this soup?)

Crayfish (aka. spiny lobster according to the dictonary). These are as "Jumbo" as they can get, according to the packet label.

When Marcus described what a crayfish was to my mom, we were wondering what it could be in Filipino. When I first saw the actual thing last week though, I figured it wasn't an alupihang dagat (apparently translated as mantis shrimp) after all: the crayfish looks like a small lobster (so small that its tail could almost be a prawn's tail), its shell is soft like a blue crab's shell and the pinchers can easily be broken by the fingers without risk of cutting yourself on it.

As fresh ones are expensive and hard to come by here in Sweden (they are almost out of them in the Baltic sea because of Russian waste there, apparently), crayfish are usually bought in the grocery in boxes of 1.5 kilos or so, in a premade sweet, watery sauce. You slowly defrost the tray of crayfish until it reaches room temperature--the box actually recommends leaving it out for 2 days (two days!!!); otherwise you can leave it out for 3-4 hours before eating it as it is (it's precooked) or with some bread and cheese. The taste is strong (sharp?) and not shirmp- or crab- like at all (although the crayfish fat tastes a bit like crab fat.)

Also, when eating crayfish, I found out that it is not only acceptable but is in fact a must to suck the sauce/juice out from the claws before eating the meat. This tradition is observed even in the so-called crayfish parties (kräftskiva)held in mid-August: The Swedes eat out on tables in their garden sucking and picking away at the crayfish, with the crayfish sauce dripping from their fingers and wrists. (Yep! It's very messy to eat and even the picture on the crayfish box shows the crayfish on newspapers, where it is traditionally eaten so the tables don't get soiled). The crayfish party is an institution, even: at this time even table napkins can have crayfish designs on them, city residents are known to have crayfish parties in front of the city hall, etc. and children are sent to their friends by their parents who wish to have an undisturbed evening of crayfish-eating, and of course, the alcohol drinking that comes with it... :-)


Anonymous cheryl said...

yay, that's the first appearance of my name in an entry!

ahahahaha, EXCITED!

anyway. i like your food entries. and the pictures you take. hm, you're quite the cook joy. practicing??

5:05 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

harhar! :-) no actually we are just on a "good life" project, i.e. not to eat any type of "dorm food", eating healthy, biking regularly. It feels well, good. Heheh. Yes I mentioned your name on purpoise. Para sulatan mo ko ng comment! Bwahah!

8:13 AM

Blogger Christianne said...

Funny but I've never tried crayfish or nyponsoppa. Am encouraged to go out and buy some though, after these two entries!

Nagkwento si Edward dati na people used to eat crayfish late every Wednesday night, it's dinner as usual at around 6pm then after the kids go to bed the adults would have crayfish and beer around 10pm. Sounds like a totally random tradition (why Wednesdays? why crayfish?) but fun to do.

10:11 AM


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