Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DAY OF THE DEAD OR DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

A few posts back, I mentioned that we were going to dinner for a special Day of the Dead celebration.  Texas has, and has always had, a large Hispanic influence.  It's part of our history and part of our culture and people.  A celebration that is growing in popularity is the holiday called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. 

Click HERE for the Wiki entry about it.

Day of the Dead
November 1st and 2nd are set aside to honor deceased relatives and other loved ones that have passed away.  Altars are set up with photos of the deceased and are decorated with flowers, toys, candles, folk art, favorite memories, even foods and other trinkets.  It is actually a derivation of All Saints Day and All Souls Day and other ancient beliefs that have become known in Mexican culture as the celebration called Dia de los Muertos.

It it believed that on the night of October 31st, the gates of Heaven open and allow the spirits of the departed children to reunite with their families.  Then, on November 1st, the souls of adults are allowed to enjoy all the offerings left for them by their family and friends.  It's a very nice tradition, recognized by colorful and lively skeleton decorations, wonderful baked breads, and ornate and elaborate candies called "sugar skulls".

Day of the dead altar
One of our favorite authentic Mexican (not to be confused with TexMex) restaurants in Houston is HUGO'S.  The head chef creates a special menu every year for the three days of the holiday.  Above is the altar they set up and patrons were invited to bring their own mementos and/or photos.

We had a wonderful dinner that included one of my absolute favorites, a seasonal dish called Chiles en Nogada, pictured below.

Chiles en Nogada
They are poblano peppers, roasted and stuffed with pork, and then covered in a walnut cream sauce and dotted with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.  2nd Man had a braised lamb shank with pureed butternut squash that was delicious as well.  It was a three course meal with appetizers, desserts and a couple of drinks...so we left very full.


I told 2nd Man that eventually, I'd like to have our own Day of the Dead dinner at the farm and invite friends and family.  It's a neat and different alternative to having a Halloween party type get together.  We'll see when we can make that happen!


4 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

how cool and i would love to try what you had for dinner!

Jennifer said...

You lost me at cilantro, but other than that your dinner looks wonderful! I don't see many dishes that have pomegranate seeds involved. What a neat touch. Is it a cultural thing, you think, or a reference to Persephone and Demeter?

I may have to borrow your idea of a Day of the Dead dinner. That sounds like it would be a wonderful addition to my Samhain traditions. Thanks!

1st Man said...

Oh my it's so delicious. And you would love this celebration, the decor is so awesome. Just google some 'day of the dead' or the spanish phrase and look at google images. Fun stuff. :-)

1st Man said...

Ha, I know not everyone loves cilantro, but it could be left off. Pomegranate seeds are a lovely touch to the meal. The dish, from what I read, was created by a convent in Mexico to celebrate independence when an official came through town. They didn't have many ingredients because of the season, so they roasted some peppers, stuffed them with pork and seasonings, covered it with a walnuts and cream sauce and lastly pomegranates were in season at the time and they sprinkled those on top. They put this dish together and it was said to honor the colors of the Mexican flag, which is green, white and red. It's now a traditional dish this time of year when the ingredients are readily available.

This would fit in nicely with Samhain! Great idea!!