When The Husband and I were first married, we spent a couple of Easters at MaMa and Pop-Pop's, his grandparents. I thought my family did it big with the glazed ham, pans and pans of casseroles, bowls of veggies and salads, tray after tray of desserts. Uh-uh. Didn't touch MaMa's Easter spread. Just a ham? That's for wussies. MaMa baked a ham, roasted lamb, and smothered a pork roast. If she cooked three different meats, you can imagine how many sides she whipped up...in her frugally equipped farmhouse kitchen, I should add.
But when it comes to Cajun Easter, there's actually something that tops eatin'. Paquing (pronounced pocking) the Easter eggs.
What? You've never heard paquing? Well, bless your little heart! Where've you been?
Just kidding. I lived only a couple of hours from Cajun country, but never knew the mysteries of paquing until I got married.
On Easter Sunday, Cajuns play a traditional game called paque (pock) or paque-paque. This game involves hard boiled eggs...your pretty dyed Easter eggs. Each person selects the egg he/she wishes to use during the game. Two people square off, each holding their eggs firmly with the top exposed. They knock, or paque, the eggs together. The loser is the person whose egg cracks. The winner claims his/her opponent's egg. Then the winner moves on to the next victim...ur...player and a new round starts. The winner of that round claims the loser's egg.
The Boy lost and has to give up his egg.
I lost and gave up my egg. Somehow, The Husband ends up with all the eggs. I think he may have cheated. He's a dirty paquer.
If you've been reading for a while, hopefully you've gotten a glimpse into the Cajun world-- and not just the food (that's one of my goals anyway). Hopefully you've come to see that Cajuns are fun-loving people who like to joke around. Practical jokes and trickery are common-place here. And we love it. A lot of trickery goes on with paquing eggs.
Dr. Barry Jean Ancelet, in his book Cajun Country, reveals that some devilish paquers use dyed goose or guinea hen eggs because they have harder shells. Some rough paquers use painted egg-shaped rocks. And some really crazy paquers sneak in uncooked dyed eggs just for grins.
I've tried my hardest to find out how this game originated...I even got up off my lazy rear and went to the library (full disclosure: I work at the local library). I found out that Cajuns aren't the only people who paque. The custom is practiced in Belgium. People in Greece also paque--although they call it tsougrisma. How did all this tsougrismic paquing begin in Cajun country? I wasn't able to find a source that documented that piece of info. Probably because I was too busy thinking up sophomoric phrases. I am my father's child.
By the way, if you are interested in Cajun culture, give the book below a read. It details the history of the Cajuns as well as their traditions, customs, and culture. Especially how they relate to music, food, and celebrations. The book is one of the most informative I've read on the subject.
Ancelet, Barry Jean, Jay Edwards, and Glen Pitre. Cajun Country. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991.
Every year just before Easter, people want to know the trick for perfectly hard boiled eggs...no green ring around the yolk, no hard to peel shells. And everybody and their brother pipes up with a no-fail method. I decided to conduct a not-so-scientific experiment and test a few of these methods out for myself.
I've already discovered a method for avoiding the green ring around the yolk, which happens when the eggs are overcooked. Someone in my recipe swap group shared how:
Perfect Hard-boiled Eggs
Place eggs in 1 layer in a pot of cold water
Bring to a rolling boil
Boil for 7-8 minutes, depending on how "done" you like your eggs
Remove pot from burner and shock eggs with cold water
Peel as soon as you can handle the eggs
I cook my eggs for 8 minutes because undercooked eggs...well...I won't eat them. I don't find that running the eggs under cold water is enough, so I dunk them in a bowl of ice water. And it works! No green at all.
Now for my next problem. Shells that stick. It's annoying. It uglies up the eggs. Not so terrible for making egg salad. But if my goal is deviled eggs, shells that stick, leaving me with hacked up looking eggs tick me off.
Baking soda added to the water: The shells stuck a little bit, but not on every one. The whole egg below was the worst looking one. Not bad, but not as good as the salt treatment.
Vinegar added to the water: Out of all the additions, this was the worst. The shells stuck on every egg and more so than with baking soda, leaving me with gouges on every egg.
Control (nothing added to the water): This was the worst overall. When compared to the other treatments, the shells here stuck like white on rice (ok, maybe not that bad). Lots of gouging on the surface of every egg. Not suitable for deviling.
Boil your Easter eggs. Dye them. Have a paquing good time!
Food on Friday @ Carole's Chatter
Food on Friday @ Carole's Chatter