It’s the Saturday night before Easter. In homes across Louisiana, eggs are boiled and dyed for an Easter tradition. The tradition is Pocking.
If you are not of Cajun descent, you may not be familiar with pocking. I grew up in Southwest Louisiana but am not of Cajun descent. I learned about pocking from my husband and friends. Here’s what I learned…
Pocking requires two people. To pock, one person holds a boiled, dyed egg, while another person taps the tip of it with the tip of another egg. The winner is the person whose egg survives without cracking. The winner gets the cracked eggs. The rules are clear, if your egg cracks you lose it. The is no age requirement and no consideration is given for age.
Pocking was a custom brought to Southwest Louisiana by exiled French Acadians and passed down through families. In French, “Paques” transplanted is Easter and pronounced “Pock.”
In some families and communities, it is taken very seriously. Preparation begins months in advance and in the weeks before Easter, the breeds of chickens who the lay the hardest shell eggs are given calcium in the form of oyster shells to lay the toughest shells for the competition. The owner of the chicken laying the winning egg gets bragging rights and will most certainly be in demand for the next year’s competition.
There is a method for finding the hardest eggs. Lightly tap the eggs on your front teeth. If there is a light high pitch ping, the egg is hard. If you hear a dull, blunt sound the egg is soft.
The chosen eggs are carefully boiled. Eggs should be boiled point down so the air pocket is a the large part of the egg and not the small end. Some boil eggs in the carton, others say to pack their eggs close together so they can’t move around and crack and others put rags in the bottom of the pan as a cushion for the eggs while boiling.
Old timers boil their eggs in coffee grounds, they say it makes them harder.
My husband tells the story of his maternal grandmother, Grandma Ortego. Grandma Ortego boiled her eggs for pocking in coffee grounds. She put the small dark coffee colored eggs in a Easter Basket on the kitchen table ready for Sunday afternoon. Grandma Ortego spoke little English. She would just motion to the kids and hold up an egg. Most of the older kids would not pock with her as they knew she would win and take their eggs. The younger kids would pock and yes, they would lose their eggs. By the end of the afternoon, tears were shed and Grandma Ortego had a basketful of eggs. My husband doesn’t ever remember Grandma Ortego losing and she passed the tradition on.
This year the tradition was passed on the oldest granddaughter, Olivia Rose. My husband, better known as Pappa, told Olivia Rose the stories of pocking when he was a boy and of Grandma Ortego. Since I have known my husband he has never lost at pocking…until now.