Dia de Los Meurtos Style Cuisine


Steven Sessamen

A plate of Pan de Muertos, a bowl od divinity and a saucer of salsa dip wreathed with fall foliage.

Every year in the country of Mexico, the people carry on the ancient tradition of celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. To honor those who have passed and celebrate the life that they themselves still can enjoy. One of the ways that they venerate the dead is by making ofrendas (a type of shrine) that are adorned with artifacts to help guide their inert families back to them.

At the base of ofrendas are white crosses that symbolize the four cardinal directions, the four elements, and the Christian cross. Notably, the representation of the four elements appears often throughout most shrines. Which is so appropriate we shall cook representing these four.

In the middle of the memorabilia, is a pitcher of water to quench the thirst of the traveling souls, marigold flowers are set up everywhere to guide spirits home, and incense is used to help purify the returning souls. Marigold tea and biscuits are a unique way to incorporate all three symbols of navigation, nature, and religion of the event into a simple setting.

Cooking with SlepRock:

For 16 Cempasuchil biscuits you will need:

175g of plain flour

40g of caster sugar

14g of marigold petals

110g cold butter

With parental guidance preheat the oven to 356 degrees. Then mix the sugar, flour, and petals together in a bowl. After, you should rub the butter into the powder and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be 7mm thick (about the thickness of a finger thickness), and then cut the dough into whatever small shape desired. Lie the shapes on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and then let cool.

Marigold tea might not sound at first appetizing, but it does boost the immune system and can relieve indigestion. To make this tasty drink you will need to:

Using fresh marigolds, rinse the blooms in water and place them into a cup, or a pitcher to the brim. If you use dried marigolds only fill the container halfway. Carefully pour boiling water into the container just below the top. It is key to permit the tea to cool to room temperature. After, strain the flowers out and add sweeteners if so desired.

Upon the ofrenda personal belongings and pictures of the deceased, a candle for each passed spirit will be lit. These candles represent the element of fire and they also aid as a beacon to guide the spirits home to their families. In the culinary aspect fire is associated with spice, so building off of that platform a salsa dip would be appropriate.

1 pound of Velveeta cheese

1 jar of salsa

2tbs of chopped cilantro leaves

1/4 cup of milk

Mix the cheese, and milk together into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the items for five minutes. Mixing the bowl contents about every minute until the queso (cheese) is melted.
Before and after an additional three minutes of microwaving stir the mixture. During the second stirring, add the cilantro to the bowl. Serve after cooling to a warm temperature and scoop out the contents with chips.

Lower on the ofrenda is typically where a bowl of salt is kept to prevent the spirits from leading into earthly temptations and a banquet of the departed’s favorite foods and some traditional foods as well. One of the foods placed on the altar is pan de Muertos; additionally, this bread represents fraternal offerings and the earth.

To make a loaf of pan de Muertos you’ll need:

4oz of warm butter

3/4 cups of white sugar

3tsp of aniseed

1tsp of salt

6 cups of flour

4 large eggs

5/4 cups of water

2tbs of orange zest

1/4oz of dry yeast

With a stand mixer and a dough hook mix the sugar, aniseed, salt, 1/2 cup of flour, and butter together, and in a mixing bowl whisk the eggs as you add water and orange zest. Add the bowl of liquid ingredients to the mixing bowl and 1/2 cup of flour. Pour the yeast and a 1/2 cup of flour into the bowl also and gradually add 1/2 cup of flour into the bowl until the dough firms. Knead the dough for a minute on a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a ball and drape a clean damp washrag and let it rise for an hour and a half.

After the dough rises, section off a quarter of the dough and shape them into a ball and two four-beaded chains. Four help making the shape look at an image of the bread complete. Drape and gently press the “chains” into an X formation with the ball in the middle onto the loaf. Let the dough rise for an additional hour and then bake for 40 minutes on high. Let cool and enjoy.

Hanging above the ofrenda and throughout the streets of Mexico are the colorful papel picado that represent the great union between the living and the afterlife as well as the wind and skies in which they sway. A sweet that also is very resemblant of air is divinity.

To make it you will need:

3 cups of sugar

3/4 cups of white corn syrup

3/4 cups of water

2 egg whites

1 large Jell-O box ( the best flavors to use are cranberry, lime, raspberry and cherry)

Butter a jelly roll pan or a baking sheet; your decision will determine further steps. Beat the egg whites until they stiffen, and gradually add the Jell-O powder and continue beating until it is fully dissolved. Combine the sugar, water, and syrup in a pot; stir and boil until it reaches 252 degrees or can be spun into a fine thread. Pound the syrup into the egg mixture in a fine stream, and continuously beat it until the gloss is gone.

Depending on what you chose either pour the mix onto the jelly pan or use a teaspoon and drop scoops of it onto the baking sheet. After letting it harden and dry it is ready to present.

Thank you Spruce Eats, The Simple Things, and Grow Forage Cook Ferment for their help with these recipes.