Saturday, April 18, 2009

En mycket glad påsk

Jennifer For Påsk we were invited to the home of our Swiss friends G. and D., who planned to make a traditional Swiss Easter dinner for us and another couple, A.-C. and A., who are from Brittany and Austria respectively. For some reason it didn't occur to me until the week before that we should bring cascarones*; fortuantely we had already decided that we would make quiche, so between that and a few more egg-heavy meals, we managed to have 21 cascarones ready to go.

Söndag 13 april was a beautiful day, sunny and warm enough to sit outside on G. and D.'s balcony for a pre-dinner påskmust, which no one else had had before, but is really just like julmust ("Tastes better than it smells," was A.'s opinion). Everybody had at their dinner plate a sweet-bread roll with a soft-boiled name egg in it, and the first game of the day was to try to see who had the toughest egg, by trying to crack each other's eggs. For salad, we had the eggs along with a pear-based dressing; the main course was lamb with a hot arugula sauce. Having had a Swiss dinner, I suggested that we should now do an Ast-family Irish-German-Mexican tradition, and go outside to get a little exercise in order to earn dessert.

It's always fun to introduce new people to cascarones. There's a few minutes of disbelief that anyone would actually make these things, followed by a little hesitation about what exactly to do with them, then once the proper technique is demonstrated, everybody starts running around and hilarity ensues. This bunch was no exception, I'm happy to report. People in other apartments came out on to their balconies to see what the foreigners were up to, and the only slight negative is that the resulting mess of eggshell and confetti, which I assured everyone would be gone after one good rain and wind, is still there on the common lawn...

We then played a traditional Swedish yard game called kubbspel, which involves throwing big sticks at even bigger sticks; its origins are said to be ancient and obscure. Back inside afterwards for dessert, a complicated and delicious confection G. had made out of meringue, cream, and raspberries. We left shortly thereafter, because we were getting a ride from A. and A.-.C, who live on an island in the Stockholm archipelago and had to get back in time for the last ferry. It was a very good day, and I'm happy to have introduced what is surely one of the stranger traditions of the Ast family to a whole new set of people, who enjoyed it so much.

*Most of you know about cascarones, but here's a quick description for others. Take a raw egg, poke a hole in the end, shake the egg out and use as normal. After the egg shell has been rinsed and dried out, stuff with hand-cut confetti. Decorate but your favorite method (except don't dunk them in dye!), hide them, find them, and then have a blast breaking them over each other's head. Clever people, like Gramma, keep an egg or two in reserve, and strike after everyone else thinks cascarones is over... you will all be happy to hear that Joe got me this year.

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