Tuesday, November 02, 2004

pan de los muertos



november 1 and 2 are collectively known as días de los muertos, or days of the dead--a time of remembrance of those who have died and a celebration of the continuance of life. the tradition and history of this mexican holiday goes back to aztecan times, but has been changed and shaped by christianity and modern living. some of the rituals still observed are the placing of altars in home ladened with food and flowers to help attract the spirits of the dead, and celebrating with food and family at the gravesites of loved ones.

photos and items of loved ones, fragrant flowers, brightly decorated calaveras (skulls) and animal figures made from sugar, are placed on the altars and gravesites. another popular item is pan de los muertos, or bread of the dead, made from flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, anise, and orange peel, then decorated with skulls or bone shapes. it is highly fragrant because it is believed that the aroma will attract the souls of loved ones. the spirits "consume" the aromas, and once they are done with the essence, people take away the bread and other sweets, and eat them, often enjoying them with mugs of fragrant hot chocolate.

9 comments:

Reid said...

Hi Santos,

Such yummy and festive looking breads....how come we don't have anything like that here? =(

Santos said...

hi reid

it's surprising, isn't it, considering that islanders love colourful and love sweet bread, that there isn't something like this already. well, without the symbolism, anyway.

Maria said...

hi there, sorry they treated you badly in our neighborhood yesterday. i'm glad you found our blog, i've discovered yours through sassy and have been enjoying the l.a. entries. i hope your mom is feeling better everyday.

Anthony said...

We have nothing like this in Australian culture and it seems that these things are part of a general denial of the passages of life. The Japanese have a similar festival with o-bon where they honour the dead and have dances and community festival. My favourite part is the eggplant horse they make for the spirits to ride back on.

JMom said...

Hi Santos, glad to see you back, missed you in the Green Papaya. You're in my hometown!!! Oh, I so loved reading about your L.A. wanderings, made me more homesick and hungry too. My husband was just talking about how he missed Cuban food. We can't get any decent one here in NC. I grew up going to the original Versailles on Venice Blvd. My high school was just down the street, Venice High. Our favorite though is a little dive on Sepulveda next to Big 5. I don't know if they are still open though. They had the best black beans and chicken. Their bread was great too, sort of like filipino pan-de-sal. And La Brea bread! Don't even remind me. I am jealous! Enjoy, hope your mom gets better soon, sorry to hear she is sick.

Santos said...

hi maria

thanks for stopping by! i'm using your restaurant blog as an informal guide to this blog, thanks for the great suggestions. i actually had the annoying voter experience here on the westside, i wish my polling place had nice people like yours apparently did.

hey anthony

is there anything similar in the aboriginal culture? i mean, the whole honouring of the dead thing, not the funky bread. i'm curious as to what that eggplant horse would look like.

hi jmom

i've been thinking about the gorgeous banana pudding you made recently. hmmm, i may make one for thanksgiving....

i'll have to go down on sepulveda to look for that cuban restaurant. i'm surprised there isn't any decent cuban food in NC. i thought that quite a few cuban families, when fleeing cuba in the sixties, settled in the carolinas. i would think the coomunity would be established enough to spawn a few good restaurants.

thank you all for your kind concerns, my mom is doing better and better every day, and is touched that so many people in the blogosphere have sent their sentiments.

Anthony said...

Santos
An eggplant horse is one of the small japanese eggplants with four toothpicks for legs, nothing fancy.
The interesting thing about death in aboriginal culture is that the person's name cannot be spoken during the mourning period which can be up to a year. I'm not sure if this applies to all tribes under all circumstances

Santos said...

i smell a scan....

are the dead referenced at all a year after death or is it a lot of nudge nudge wink wink you-know-who goings about

Anthony said...

Hmm don't know, it would be tricky though but in small communities I guess you don't need too much nodding, winking and you know whos.