Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day of the Dead

One thing Majumdar's travelogue has that Mayes', Weiner's, and Gilbert's don't is a trip to Latin America. I love Latin America. I spent 7 weeks in Mexico (in addition to countless shorter trips when we lived near the border); 4 weeks each in Venezuela and Brazil and 10 days each in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Majumdar is in Mexico for los dias de los muertos (days of the dead). This is a celebration of death, that coincides with our Halloween. Both are based on the pagan holiday of Samhain, when the Celts believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was thinnest, which allowed for spirits to visit our world. The holiday in Mexico is a strange combination of pagan, Catholic, and Aztec beliefs. Picnicking on graves is one of the rituals of this holiday, along with eating sugar skulls (pan de muertos).

My daughter and I tried Frida Kahlo's Pan de Muerto recipe last year from Barbara Kingsolver's "year of" book - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Although tasty, our skulls weren't quite as artistic as I suspect Frida's turned out to be. Ours looked more like white blobs.

Another food Majumdar enjoys while in Mexico are Chilaquiles. I had learned about these for the first time a few years ago when one of the textbooks I was using for my Spanish class included a picture of them, and a definition - chilaquiles is an aztec word meaning "old worn hat". It is made from old tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese. Majumdar's chilaquiles also have eggs. We have recently discovered a yummy recipe in the New York Times that includes chicken.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that you learned a picnic could include the deceased's most favorite beverage in the picnic. I remember honoring your grandmother Izzie with some schnapps!