Saturday, October 26, 2013

Remembrance is powerful…

Dia de Los Muertos is Mexico’s most important holiday. We’re getting ready to celebrate this next weekend.

I’ve loved this holiday ever since I lived in Mexico in the late 60’s and saw the family celebrations first hand. The cemeteries are full of all night gatherings and one tribute is as amazing as the next.

This is the most commanding image I’ve seen for Day of the Dead. It was shot by a UPI photographer in Oaxaca and will forever link me to the significance of this holiday when I look at it. It’s compelling.

It’s also a night when you excuse excessive drinking. I will probably slow sip a shot or two of Amores Mezcal. For me, it’s the perfect Day of the Dead drink. Remembering the ones you love.

The holiday is observed November 1st and 2nd – All Saints Day and All Souls Day - and centers on gathering friends and family to pray for, remember and celebrate friends and family members who have died. I love it because it’s a festive and joyous time of celebration.

People build altars at home to honor the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. They also go to the cemetery and decorate the grave building altars and staying up all night on November 1st to commemorate.

I started building my altar years ago. I leave it up during the holidays and it is a daily reminder of the magnificent things that people who have passed brought to my life while they were here. My altar is adorned with many things including a bottle of peppermint schnapps’ in honor of my brother Tim and a pomegranate because my dad loved to bring them home every Christmas. My mom loved Chinese food so I often cook Chinese during this time. I also put up a photo of my old boyfriend who is not dead but it is a time of renewal for me. For me, the holiday is that I bury the past and move on with the new. Honestly, it feels tremendous to get rid of the baggage.

So where will you put your altar? Mine is in my kitchen because nearly all of the people I love truly treasure both cooking and eating.

Isn’t it amazing how your culinary style has been defined by the great chefs of your past? Celebrate by creating the dishes they taught you to love to cook.

This holiday also reminds me that there is something comforting knowing you always will be remembered and I’m hoping that my family will celebrate me on Day of the Dead long after I am gone. Don’t forget to bring the tequila.

I’m claiming my seventh life this year so I am definitely celebrating. I hope you will too.

Buen Apetito!