It all started with a facebook posting. A crayfish festival at IKEA? What? Surely, we must go! That’s something we just couldn’t miss.
The evening did not start well for me. After only an hour and a half of sleep the night before and a long day at work, I was tired. and hungry. and cranky. I had purchased our tickets to the event the day before for myself, my partner Jess, and 4 other friends. Curiosity was I think the driving motivation behind most of our desires to attend this event. “do they have crayfish in Sweden?” we all asked. Which, we discovered, yes, they do.
When we arrived, the line for the all you can eat buffet stretched for quite a distance. To my great disappointment and surprise, IKEA did not have a good plan for keeping people moving along. We got in line at 7:15. By 7:45, when we weren’t even halfway to the buffet table, my patience began to waver. The room was filled with people of all walks of life, all ages. Decorations of weird paper sun lamps and paper mache crawfish streamers were scattered all around. There was a swedish jazz band and dancers. They were explaining things on the microphone but the audio was so poor you couldn’t hear a word they were saying. On the tables were party hats and bibs with odd designs such as a crayfish pinching the nose of the man in the moon. And yes, I do have photographic evidence of the evening.
By 8:00, I was freaking out, my weird anxiety about lines and crowds starting to kick in and not mixing well with my lack of sleep. Along with that was the nagging feeling that I was moments away from a migraine, which was not being aided by the small child in line behind us who kept blowing a plastic whistle. Fortunately, I was saved by a friend who popped me a half of a klonopin. And 15 minutes later while still in line, we scored shots of an unknown beverage. It did not take long for us to agree that none of us liked aquavit. But we drank it anyway. We were almost to the buffet table by 8:30, and our patience grew very thin as a patron in front of us allowed her 2 small children to fix their own plates at the buffet… placing one item at a time on their plates, stalling the line’s progress for 5 or 10 minutes. Fortunately for me, the klonopin had kicked in, so I really didn’t care.
But then we were there. We piled pieces of cheese, strange crackers slathered in butter, crawfish and swedish meatballs onto our plates. I skipped the mashed potatos because the spoon had fallen completely into the serving dish and I did not want to fish it out and then scoop from the potatos. That’s just gross. I added a spoonful of some sort of potato vegetable hash, and then we made our way to the table, put on our bibs, and finally started eating. The crayfish at that point, was cold, but edible. I would like to say they were balanced by the meatballs, but I honestly can’t recommend eating those two items together in the same meal.
We then located the dessert table, loaded with chocolate marshmallow coconut puffs, some sort of coffee coconut puffs, something green, and some sort of little cakes. Several of the table went for coffee, but they ran out before everyone was served. That was not a popular moment. It was 9:15 and they refused to make more coffee. The event was advertised to run until 10pm. Bad form, IKEA, bad form. Full from cold crawfish, meatballs, and marshmallows, we nondiscreetly claimed a section of the decorative crayfish streamers (thanks VA)… and almost made it out with a giant crayfish balloon… but the rightful owner shouted us down and asked for it back. Dammit.
In front of the store, we posed with our spoils for a group photo, agreed that it was a very strange evening, and then parted ways in the parking lot. Myself, I went home and drank about 1/4 bottle of pepto bismol throughout the remainder of the evening, worried that cold crawfish, swedish meatballs, and marshmallows would be much less pleasant coming back up than it was going down. Fortunately, I did not find out.
All in all, it was a strange evening. I still don’t understand how IKEA, the masters of crowd control and manipulation, did not plan a more efficient flow for a buffet. I can not say the food was worth the hour and a half wait in line. But the evening was definitely an experience worth having, and the freakish bunch of friends I shared it with made it enjoyable after all.