The Suitcase Lady


March 30, 2010, 9:35 pm

Years ago we were strolling in San Antonio on an extremely warm, spring day. Sidewalk vendors with carts were hawking their wares. One cart caught my eye: it had towering stacks of vividly colored Easter eggs. How could these eggs survive, I thought, in the blazing Texas sun?

My curiosity overcame my manners. “Won’t these eggs spoil?” I asked. “Of course not,” came the instant reply. “They’re cascarones. They are filled with confetti.” That was my introduction to this delightful and mischievous Mexican custom.

The origins of cascarones are foggy, but Marco Polo is frequently credited with introducing the eggs to Italy. A more solid historical fact is that cascarones were a part of Italian courtship rituals of the 18th and 19th centuries. Young men would toss a perfume-filled egg at women they liked. The custom traveled from Italy to Austria, France, Spain and the New World where the eggs became a Mardi Gras tradition. The current epicenter of cascarone activity is Texas. Selling ready-to-go cascarones has become a cottage industry there.

If you want to create your own, make a penny size opening on the top of a raw egg. Pour out the yoke and white to use for cooking. Wash out the shells, let them air dry and decorate. The eggs in San Antonio were left white and decorated with fine pointed markers. Confetti is then poured into the eggs (it should shake like a maraca) and the top is sealed with a small piece of tissue paper and glue. Now for the best part. On Easter morning children and teenagers alike run around trying to smash the eggs on each other’s heads. The fun is best had outdoors.  Ask any group of children, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, if they would like to make cascarones. The answer is obvious.

Here we are hard at work creating cascarones. Only one egg shattered in the making process. So far, the intact eggs are waiting for the big Easter morning bash. If you hurry, you’ll still have time to concoct a basketful. And you won’t even have to eat egg salad sandwiches for a week after.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Claudia

    This brings back a wonderful memory of a family trip to the seaside village of Troncones, Mexico. Expats, tourists and residents held a fiesta on the dusty basketball court to raise money to send a young boy to Mexico City for eye surgery. The area was strung with colored lights, grandmothers cooked up tasty traditional foods, mariachi and salsa tunes lured dancers out of their seats. The children went table to table with baskets of cascarones for sale. We gringos had no idea what they were or what to do with them, but we soon found out!

  • Mary

    Claudia…that is a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it.