On Friday night, Christine and I celebrated the second day of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with a feast of our deceased loved one’s favorite foods!
Traditionally, Dia de los Muertos is a festive two-day celebration of friends and family who have passed away, with the first day (All Saints’ Day) reserved for celebrating children who have died, and the second (All Souls’ Day) dedicated to remembering the adults.
We aren’t always literal with which day we celebrate Dia de los Muertos, but we do roll out a pretty tasty (and many would probably say…eclectic) array of our loved one’s favorite foods for them to enjoy with us from the afterlife.
Although we took a ton of pictures, I decided to post one from last year’s feast in honor of another dear friend we recently lost, our former kitchen table. As you can see below, he was still very much among the living this time last year!
This year I made my world-famous tuna casserole in honor of my sister Brittany (who went inexplicably wild for it while visiting us one summer when she was a little girl!), poured plenty of beer for my Grandpa Romero — even toasting him with his patented “Arriba, abajo, al centro y al dentro!” — had plenty of sweet, delicious Pan de Muerto — Bread of the Dead, pictured above and purchased at our favorite Mexican tienda in NoHo — on hand and even filled a tiny shot glass full of cat food for our departed feline friends, Frida and Lourdes.
Although I’ve seen Dia de los Muertos celebrated a number of different ways (in Cuernavaca, Mexico they ban liquor of any kind for the entire two days, which kinda sucked) what we usually do is gather a bunch of our loved one’s belongings (pictures, gifts they gave us or we gave them, Brittany’s old toys, fun stuff she loved, etc.) and create a small shrine around the items in the bookcase.
Lighting a bunch of candles, we pour them some beer, orange juice or milk — for Christine’s Dad, Buster, who never drank hard alcohol — and even some fresh-squeezed tuna juice for the cats!
We then prepare them a heaping plate of food, set them a place at the table with us and eat! Just one plate by the way…we don’t pull out the leaf or anything.
I know it sounds totally somber, but Dia de los Muertos is actually the exact opposite of that. Rooted in native Mexican culture, it is supposed to be a time when the walls between the living and dead are so thin that the dead are free to come home to visit.
And rather than show them how sad we’ve been without them, the idea is to celebrate the lives of our departed loved ones, treat them to some of their favorite foods and drinks and just generally live it up.
I’m not saying it’s not emotional, because, Lord knows, sometimes it’s emotional as hell — and let me tell ya, tuna casserole is not what you wanna be eating when you’re sobbing between bites, yikes! — but celebrating all that was beautiful and amazing about those who are no longer with us is really kind of wonderful.
And, man alive, that strange-looking pink bread is delicious!
Although our favorite pictures of Buster and our beer-swilling cat Lourdes — seriously, she loved the stuff, probably too much if you know what I’m saying — are, sadly, pre-digital, we wanted to post some our favorite pics of Brittany, Grandpa Romero and Frida in honor of the good times we had with them all.
Until next year, feliz Dia de los Muertos a todos!
6 responses to “Dia De Los Muertos”
That meal sounds like it was a very sweet, and fitting tribute to the departed who have touched your lives. I was glad to have known Grandpa Romero, Brittany, Buster, Lourdes and Frida, and I’m sure they all appreciated your efforts.
Your photos and post truly capture the warmth and love you have for those who you remember fondly during this time each year.
Dave and I were at a Mexican place the other night (after seeing No Country for Old Men–more on that later). At one point, the hostess seated a group at the table next to us and one of the men looked soooo much like Tomas no mas. I told Dave, “That guy looks like Tom’s grandpa” and I got a little teary. I wanted to share that with you–I got such a warm feeling remembering your abuelo’s joie de vivre. He obviously got so much out of life and I always enjoyed spending time with him.
Leave it to Melissa to be the first person on make.see.eat.do to use the phrase “joie de vivre”! 🙂
Grandpa Romero, lover of all things language, would have appreciated it.
Ha! You’re so right, James. My Grandpa would have loved Melissa’s choice of words!
Thanks for the sweet comments, Melissa! I must say I think of you and him every time I cook corn on the cob. Don’t know if you remember it or not, but that always seemed to be a staple of our BBQ cookouts with him and something about plopping a few cobs into a boiling pot of water and sugar just makes me smile!