I just spend Days of the Dead (1st & 2nd Nov) in Oaxaca city, and it was awesome! The whole city comes alive and has a big party in the cemetary, I kid you not! I wish I could post some photos up, cos it's really hard to describe what happened. The festival is actually about remembering the dead and celebrating the next stage of their lives. People bring flowers to decorate the graves, and bring food as offerings to the dead. At home there'll also be an altar with flowers and food offerings as well, different types of regional food etc. After the offering, the food will be eaten. It's a very colourful and positive festival, not at all like the name suggests when interpreted through a western perspective (which has really negative associations with death). The Day of the Dead tradition is a pre-hispanic tradition, but got mixed with christianity when the spanish came, so now there are crosses and pictures of jesus on the altars and the graves, along with the traditional food.
Speaking of food, there are several food specialties of this state, one of which is chocolate (which is made into mole [pronounced mo-le, not mole, the animal], a sauce made from chilli, chocolate and various other spices. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I'm going to try and buy some to take home.....if my bag will have space), and another is grasshoppers and crickets. In the markets, there are people with selling bags of insects, I think they've been deep fried, or at least fried. They look crunchy. And as ever, flavoured with chilli, lemon and salt. There are also these giant tortillas (about 3 times the size of a normal one) called tlayudas. It's a meal in itself.
Labels: Day of the Dead, Mexican food