In every culture, there’s a time of the year when the veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead falls down. And although it is an ancient and worldwide tradition, there is one that’s known the most for its colors, vibrance, food, and joy.
Mexico is an amazing country known for its festive culture, strong flavors and colors, and amazing experiences that go from natural landscapes to outdoor festivals. So, it is not a surprise to discover that the past lives of those who are not among us anymore are as celebrated as the living.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a culturally rich Mexican tradition that honors and celebrates the departed loved ones. It is a ritual that holds a lot of elements that serve as offerings to the spirits of the deceased, a way of keeping their memory alive.
And yes, you might think that these elements may be only about candles, skulls, and flowers. But, surprise, surprise! It-is-not. On top of that, you’ll find many culinary delights destined for this date only that symbolize the essence of life and remembrance.
Two Día de Muertos Traditional Dishes And A Classic
As mentioned, during Día de los Muertos food is a key element in celebrating our loved ones. It is a perfect time to remember your grandma’s favorite meal or your grandpa’s favorite sweet. Candles are on, purple and orange decorating the altar along with a white cross, cempasuchil flowers, and calaveras (skulls) accompanying, and so is food.
But not any food.
Yes, you can think about your loved ones’ favorites but also you’ll find some recipes destined only for this day that no one can’t miss.
- Calaveritas de Azúcar (Sugar Skulls)
If not the MOST iconic, it is among the most popular treats of Día de los Muertos. These intricately decorated sugar confections represent the sweetness and joy of life. Creating them involves a meticulous process, starting from molding the sugar to decorating them with colorful icing. The making of these skulls is not only a culinary art but also a craft deeply embedded in the cultural fabric, symbolizing the celebration of life even in the face of death.
- Pan de Muerto
As good as the “Calaveritas de Azúcar” is this sweet, fluffy bread adorned with bone-shaped decorations. Its characteristic and tantalizing aroma fills Mexican homes and streets during the festivity, evoking a sense of nostalgia and warmth. The bread is often flavored with hints of orange blossom water or anise, infusing it with a unique and distinct flavor that embodies the essence of the commemoration.
If you are wondering about the full recipe and looking for an extraordinary cuisine experience, check out how to make Pan de Muerto here.
I may not be Mexican, but I think any celebration would be incomplete in Mexico without the classic Tamales. These savory delicacies, wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, are made with a variety of fillings, ranging from meats to vegetables, and are a testament to the country’s rich culinary heritage. The process of making tamales is a communal activity, bringing together families and communities to share stories and memories while preparing the delectable offerings for the departed.
And! You can learn how to make Tamales with us. Find the full recipe here!
As you can see, these culinary delights hold a deep cultural significance and are cherished for their flavors and textures. Moreover, creating these traditional offerings can be a heartwarming and enriching experience. These recipes are present in Mexican culture to celebrate and honor past generations, loved ones, and traditions. They are a way to keep memories alive while having a good time.
Although celebrated in Mexico, Día de los Muertos is a great opportunity to commemorate the people who have passed through your life and left a mark. And, if you are not ready to try these Mexican delights, feel free to make your loved one’s favorite dish. It does not have to be a traditional thing, since you can build your own tradition, altar, and dish!
Día de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration, yes. But the veil between the dead and the living falls in every part of the world, so feel free to build your own rituals with your favorite food, colors, music (and even candles, why not?) to offer them to the souls present.