Maizena and Espuma: A Peculiar Carnaval Tradition


Authorities keep trying to prohibit this “rechocha” with no success. It has been a long time tradition for Carnaval-goers to throw Maizena (a natural, powdery corn-starch) on each other during Carnaval, promoting the familiar “recocha” of the festival. Some words just don’t have a direct translation, and Recocha is one of them – it basically means a disorganized way of having a good time.

Kids throw it, grown ups throw it, the drunks throw it, the nice little ladies throw it, even the elderly folks throw it.  When you see people walking around with white faces and gray hair, you better watch out because there could be some MAIZENA coming your way. Whatever you do, don’t get upset – that’ll just get you more Maizena. Instead, bring some with you and throw it back!

On the other hand, Espuma is a foam that vendors sell in long aerosol cans… it’s not very environmentally friendly and it certainly is not nice when you get it in you eyes. When you see walking marshmallows or it seems like it’s snowing in Barranquilla, watch out, Espuma is coming your way.  You will see kids playing with it and throwing it at each other’s eyes and mouths, crying and then laughing, and then repeating the whole thing over and over again.