Quirky is definitely an adjective that can be applied to some of my work. So is fun. Also; awesome, majestic, modest...but I digress.
I love shooting weird and wonderful events and people so when I was invited to shoot London Svenskar and Ocado's traditional Swedish Crayfish parties at Lisa's on Portabello Road I said yes in a heartbeat!
A brief introduction to this Scandinavian cultural phenomenon: in the 20th century crayfish harvesting was legally limited to late Summer only, thus making it an event to look forward to! paper hats and bibs are required attire for festivities of food, drink and singing, called snapsvisa! There are kraftskiva all over Scandinavia and they are traditionally events where as many people as possible get involved to hang out and have fun whilst eating this seasonal treat.
There were two days of crustacean craziness for my experience, the first being Thursday evening where the who's who of the Scandinavian London Community had turned up to sample the delights that were on offer in a sit down meal, and the second being Saturday afternoon, which was a slightly more anarchic affair with a seafood buffet. Both events included bottles and bottles of Swedish alcohol including Cider, Beer, Vodka and Shnapps, as well a plethora of colourful and delicious energy drinks to keep guests (and me!) powering on through those shells. Over 220 people attended to sing, drink, eat, sing, eat and drink some more with each circle of friends singing their own versions of the songs and teaching them to their seated neighbours. It was a friendly atmosphere with high spirits and friendly values in full flow throughout.
The star of the show on both days, as one would assume, was the Crayfish with literally tonnes of the little fellas cooked to a traditional Swedish recipe with loads of dill and sweet onions and served in platters. Guests loaded up their plates and cracked the shells to feast on the juicy flesh within. Some were experts, having shelled probably thousands in their life, but others were shell-cracking novices and needed a lot of coaching to make the most of the tiny delicacies. A booklet was handed out with instructions on how to peel them, which many found helpful. I was beyond help though (having rather clumsy fingers due to years handling cameras!) and so after dismantling and destroying three helpless crayfish I decided to stick to the Salmon...
As well as crayfish there was salmon, gravadlax, crispbreads, prawn salad, pickled herrings, elk sausage and, much to everybody's delight, cinnamon rolls!
Whilst the food was important, the key to the smooth running of the event was undoubtedly Shnapps, drunk as a shot before and after a lot of singing. The traditional songs were laid out in the handbook but many of the attendees knew the songs of by heart!
Big thanks to Charlotte from LondonSwedes.com and to everyone at Lisa's for showing me a fantastic time!
Check out a selection of the photos in the slideshow below and please head to my London Swedes gallery to see photos from both this event and the Midsummer event from july.
As always, thanks for reading!
The sponsors for the event were: Ocado, Scandinavian Kitchen, Alibi Drink, Korshags, The Crayfish Company, Pågen, Gotlands Bryggerier, Herrljunga Cider, Peter's Yard, Norrmejerier, Maverick Drinks,Saturnus, Snow Queen Vodka and Lisa's.
This event was a lot of fun as I'm a total foodie so if you're hosting an event that involves food please get in touch as I would love to come and capture the moments for you: email@example.com. Use the code 'CRAYFISH' for a free set of prints!