Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead (on the 1st and 2nd of November), is an important time in the festival calendar in Mexico to honour the dead. This period also marks the completion of the annual cycle of cultivation of maize, the country’s predominant food crop. UNESCO recognises it as a protected example of Intangible Cultural Heritage. People come together to keep the memories of their loved ones alive, and do that in a huge variety of inspiring and creative ways.
This celebration recognises that death is not the end, but a stage in life, and Día de Muertos offers friends and family the opportunity to visit lost loved ones’ graves and keep them in living memory. Ancestors and friends might have left this world but are far from forgotten.
While Día de Muertos is celebrated in other Latin American countries and Spain, the customs and culture that have developed in Mexico are uniquely representative of the country, drawing from both Catholicism and Mesoamerican cultures.
Carlos, our New Product Development and Culinary Manager, shares some insight to the festivities and his culinary highlights of the Día de Muertos tradition. Read on to find out more.
There are innumerable elements that make up the celebration, all of them with deep meaning. Street performances and parades are full of colourful costumes and face paint. There are parties at cemeteries and altars are built in honour of a loved one that passed away.
Food of course is a big part of the celebrations. My personal favourite foods from this celebration are the Alfeñiques (beautiful edible art pieces made of powdered sugar and lime juice) and the Pan de Muerto.
Food for the Dead
Alfeñiques are beautiful edible art pieces made of powdered sugar and lime juice. Where I’m from, Guanajuato, there are infinite shapes and colours. They’re part of the altar offerings and particularly popular with children. Before the Spanish arrival to Mexico, these edible figurines were made of amaranth and other pastes.
Pan de Muerto is a pastry made in different ways across the country. In Central Mexico, the area where I grew up, it’s made with a yeasted bread dough, similar to brioche, that is flavoured with orange blossom water or orange zest, and frosted with caster sugar after baked. They’re also an important offering in the traditional altar, but it’s eaten and enjoyed by everyone before and during the celebrations, particularly in the evening.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about this amazing tradition. To mark Día de Muertos this year, Carlos has created a guacamole recipe. We do hope you like it.
Check out our other recipes here.