Five Foods to Eat on Día de los Muertos
As October slides into November, Americans obsess over Hallowe'en, but to Mexicans and Central Americans, it's time for Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Families go to cemeteries to spruce up and decorate the graves of their loved ones and entertain them with music and dancing, and people set up altars full of offerings to the dead, including food and drink to keep them going. Here, then, are five foods you can make (or buy) to celebrate el Día de los Muertos in your own house.
1. Pan de muerto
The most common culinary representation of the Day of the Dead is an eggy, brioche-like bread, often topped with sugar. It may be round with a skull and crossbones in dough on top, or shaped like a skull, but no matter what shape it is, it wouldn't be Día de los Muertos without it.
The whole point of anofrenda
(altar offering) is to show the dead that you care enough to give them the very best. Mole, which contains anywhere from 20 to 50 ingredients, is representative of this. Since the dead only require a small portion, the living must finish the dish in order not to waste the food.
Along the same lines as mole, tamales appear as an example of the living's willingness to go to great and laborious lengths to honor the dead. Tamales are simple things, in terms of ingredients, but require a great deal of labor to put together: call it practice for Navidad.
The journey to the afterlife is a long, thirsty and cold one; atole, a hot, thick, gruel-like drink made from maize, gives the souls of the dead warmth, energy and respite from thirst.
5. Candied pumpkin
Called calabaza en tacha, candied pumpkin is made from sugar pumpkins grown almost expressly for this use. Slices of pumpkin are cooked in a syrup made from piloncillo (raw, unrefined sugar) and allowed to cool.