Day of the Death is one the most important Mexican traditions. This celebration takes place in two different days, November 1st honors children’s souls and November 2nd is dedicated to adults.
It's origins can be traced back to the Pre-Hispanic days. But the way we celebrate it nowadays is actually a mix of indigenous and Spaniard traditions.
Popular belief tells that souls from family members who passed away come back from the underworld during the Day of the Death. In order to show them our love and respect they are received with an offering, “ofrenda”, that includes their favorite foods and drinks, candy skulls and toys, in the case of children. Of course you can’t forget their picture and the traditional cempazúchitl flowers.
During these days, everybody attends cemeteries to visit their dead. Whether it's daytime or nighttime, families will go and place candles along the graves in order to lighten and guide their beloved souls’ way back to this world. Many families even spend the night at the cemeteries and will hire traditional music bands to play their dead’s favorite songs.
Contrary to most other cultures, celebrating the death in Mexico is not a time of mourning but a time of joy and happiness.
Mexico has a very particular way of dealing with death. Mexicans mock death. We laugh and dance around death.
A classic example is the “Catrina”, a skeleton dressed up in different outfits to show how death is present in our everyday life. We also have the traditional “Calaveras literarias”, rhymes and poems that make fun of living friends and relatives describing the moment when death will come and get them.
The most traditional food is the death’s bread, “pan de muerto”. A sweet round bread covered in white sugar with tiny bread bones on top.
Some of the best places to spend Day of the Death in Mexico are Janitzio, Mixquic and Xochimilco. The whole town will participate in cultural events around this day. Everyone dances to traditional music and parties are held at every house with open doors to anyone who wants to stop by.
There is not really a traditional dish for this day, except the “pan de muerto” and sugar or chocolate “calaveritas” (skulls). People will prepare whichever was their deceased’s favorite food… mole and other traditional Mexican dishes. You should prepare your favorite dish and lighten it up with some La Fundidora Ravenswood salsa!
However, the pre-Hispanic color to represent death was yellow and as mentioned above, we decorate all our offerings with bright yellow cempazúchitl flowers. In honor of this flowers we would suggest to prepare “Flor de Calabaza Quesadillas”, “Squash Blossom Quesadillas”.
“Squash Blossom Quesadillas”
16 Squash Blossoms
¾ lb shredded Oaxaca cheese (any other melting cheese will work)
¼ cup water
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil
La Fundidora Ravenswood Borracha or Humo
1. Rinse the blossoms carefully to avoid breaking them. Cut the stems and clean the inside. Let them rest on a paper towel and remove as much water as possible.
2. In a separate bowl combine the eggs and water. Beat well.
3. Fill each blossom with shredded cheese.
4. Use a deep frying pan to heat the oil at medium heat.
5. Cover a blossom with plenty of flour, turning it around several times to guarantee it’s all covered in flour.
6. Immediately soak that blossom in the egg and water mix. Get rid of the excess of egg and transfer to the frying pan.
7. Fry until light brown.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 for all blossoms.
9. Place 2 blossoms in a tortilla and fold as a quesadilla. You’ll have 8 quesadillas.
10. Heat a skillet at medium heat and place the quesadillas, turning them frequently until the tortilla becomes crispy.
11. Serve on a plate and garnish with your favorite Fundidora salsa. We recommend Humo or Borracha.
12. Decorate the plate with cempazúchitl or squash blossom petals.