Ponche de Tamarindo

The holidays are coming and the weather’s getting cooler, which means I’m already starting my countdown to Christmas and las posadas Navideñas in Mexico.

A few weekends ago, I attended the Kenmore blogger summit here in Chicago where I participated in a day of cooking challenges with some old and new food blogger friends. You can check out my team’s recipes at cookmore.com (but a heads up that they’re not Mexican recipes). My favorite team challenge was one where we had to create a beverage using a slow cooker. Naturally, I suggested we make a spinoff of my warm winter margarita recipe, but with a few modifications since tequila wasn’t an ingredient option.

Our creation was a spiced brandy apple cider that wowed the judges and won us the competition; my guess as to why the recipe was such a success is probably because it had more than a little piquete of brandy, wink wink. I’ve been tinkering with some new holiday recipes recently, and the challenge inspired me to adapt a ponche de tamarindo recipe with brandy that I’ve been working on for the slow cooker.

The punch has two tart elements: whole tamarind pods and flor de jamaica (hibiscus flowers), which are mellowed by the sweetness of the guava and piloncillo. The cinnamon and brandy give a woody depth, and overall, it’s a satisfying drink to warm you up on a cold night. And of course, it’d be perfect to serve for your posadas…. 

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Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Un Dulce Hogar

Día de los Muertos was this past week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Danielly Lara from Un Dulce Hogar.

 

Danielly Lara from undulcehogar.com shares her altar for Día de los Muertos. PHOTO/COURTESY OF DANIELLY LARA

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
I am a first generation immigrant from the city of Cuernavaca in the beautiful state of Morelos, known for its spring weather all year long. All my family lives in Mexico, and they have been denied visas to come visit the U.S. so I literally live between two worlds. My dad lives in California, but he left me and my family when I was 8 years old. Although I’m glad he’s here, I haven’t lived with him in California.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar mainly honors my culture and my roots. I put together my altar at the last minute. I called my dad and asked him to expedite me a box full of sugar skulls (some of them arrived broken), marigolds, bread and papel picado. Then I went through my files and found pictures from two of my great grandmas and one of my tía abuela.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos?
I made the altar because I wanted my kids to learn about my traditions. This is my first attempt to recreate a Mexican tradition with them and it was a success!

How does it keep you connected to Mexican culture?
Last summer I had the chance to take my kids to Mexico to meet my family. They connected with my family in a very deep way, the Latin way. Saying goodbye to come back to the U.S. was heartbreaking, not only to me, but to them as well. They not only learned Spanish, but they also learned that there is an entire family that loves them in a different part of the world. They had never had many adults around in their lives who paid individual attention to them. Ever since we got back to Utah, they think that every airplane that goes by our house is either going to Mexico or coming back from Mexico. I know that they will forget those relationships they formed if I don’t maintain their connected to Mexico. I don’t know if they will continue these traditions, but I know that at least they will be exposed to them. They will have to decide for themselves if they want to pass them on or not, but I surely hope they do.

For more photos and a story about Danielly’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Un Dulce Hogar.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Presley’s Pantry

Día de los Muertos was this past week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Nicole Presley from Presley’s Pantry.

Nicole Presley from Presley's Pantry made this altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF NICOLE PRESLEY

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Juarez- Chihuahua, and Tijuana. A mixed-bag of Mexican border towns.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar honors my uncle Robert. He’s the first person in my immediate family to pass on. His death strongly impacted all my living loved ones. We miss him dearly and hope that he appreciates his offerings. It also honors my fiance’s father Alfonso, who passed two years ago. 

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I always put a shot of Vodka on the alter for my uncle. He loved having a good time and vodka was his drink of choice. Since he was a figurine artist, I make sure to include one of his pieces of work. His daughter is also a great artist and I include one of her pieces on his altar, knowing he would be so proud of her accomplishments as an artist. For Alfonso, I include coins and cookies. He had a huge coin collection in his days on this earth and they were one of the things that made him the happiest. 

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture?
I make my alter in remembrance of my Tio. A way to celebrate his life and hope that where ever he is now he is able to know that we love him and miss him. And if all else fails…. At least he can enjoy his vodka. Then a few years ago when my fiances father passed, we started to celebrate his life through the alter as well. On November 2nd we play music all day long to celebrate this honorable men.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Mama Latina Tips

Día de los Muertos was this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Silvia Martinez from Mamá Latina Tips.

An altar for Día de los Muertos in Guanajuato, Mexico. PHOTO/COURTESY OF SILVIA MARTINEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Guanajuato, a beautiful state in central Mexico. Before I moved to the U.S., I don’t recall participating much in the type of Day of the Dead celebrations that have become so popular recently. What we do is this: each year my family goes to the cemetery, with literally thousands of others, to place flowers on the graves of family members and clean up around the grave site. There is usually music and even food—it feels more festive that one might think—and then we go to Mass. Since living in California with my own family, the desire to share this particular part of my culture with my boys has increased. We just spent Day of the Dead in Mexico and it was both fun and fascinating.

Who does your altar honor?
We didn’t prepare an altar this year at home; however, the boys had two at school, and we really enjoyed walking downtown to see all the beautiful altars displayed by both students and families.  At school, their altars honored a patron saint of the school and a friend of the school’s who recently passed. There was a contest in El Jardin (the central court in the city), where we saw everything from pre-hispanic altars, to traditional altars, to modern altars. Many of the students’ altars came with explanations of the symbolism behind their ofrendas and some history of the Day of the Dead tradition, so we learned a lot.
What do you typically put on your altar?
As I mentioned, we didn’t have our own altar this year, but typical items include, an image of a saint dear to the family, bread, salt for purification, fruit, images of souls in purgatory, candles, and favorite belongings of family who have passed.

How has celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico this year been different for you than the way you celebrate it in the U.S.? Have you noticed anything interesting or different than what you remember it being like from when you were growing up in Mexico?
I would love to share something that I haven’t seen before, as it seems to be a new tradition in my pueblo. On the night of November 1st, families go out into la calle (what we call the streets downtown) and kids carry bags and ask for candy just like on Halloween in the U.S., but instead of saying “trick-or-treat,” they say “Mi calaverita” (which means “my little skeleton”). Also, a lot of women dress up as Catrinas, some with elaborate dresses and hats. Catrinas have been a symbol of Day of the Dead for a long time and I think it is just beautiful seeing them embrace and expand on this tradition.

For more photos and a story from Silvia about celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico, click here to go over to Mamá Latina Tips.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Sweet Life Bake

Día de los Muertos is this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Vianney Rodriguez from Sweet Life Bake.

Vianney Rodriguez from Sweet Life Bake's Día de los Muertos altar for 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF VIANNEY RODRIGUEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Both my mom and father are from Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar honors my Uncle who died in Vietnam and both of my grandfathers.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I have a small metate which represents the one given to me by my grandfather, and whose mother gave it to him. I also have original Día de Los Muertos artwork by local Texan artists from San Antonio, McAllen, Edinburg and Houston. My main is altar is very small, but in every room I display objects or art that family members, my husband and children have gifted me over the years. Dia de Los Muertos is my favorite holiday and they shower me with gifts they find along the way in their travels.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture? And do you involve your kids to pass on the tradition?
I make my altar to honor my family. My altar keeps me connected to my childhood summers spent in Mexico with my grandfathers. I did not have the honor to meet my uncle, so every year as I begin to display my altar I read the letters he wrote from Vietnam to my daughters. I involve my daughters in every step of putting together our altar. We make papel picado, paper marigolds and they help me to decorate the table, arrange the flowers for the grave sites and help me in the kitchen as we prepare the meals that will honor our loved ones.

For more photos and a story about how Vianney celebrates Día de los Muertos, click here to go over to Sweet Life Bake.

Who celebrates Día de los Muertos in the United States?

Though Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, the changing landscape of the United States means that a lot more people are celebrating Day of the Dead on this side of the border.

According to a study released in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center about Hispanic origin profiles of those living in the United States (whether U.S. born or foreign born), people with Mexican ancestry or who are Mexican by birth make up nearly 65 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S.

Day of the Dead mini altar on theothersideofthetortilla.com

Of course, this makes us happy at The Other Side of The Tortilla because it means there are a lot of people like us who are looking to stay connected to their heritage whether by food, culture or traveling to Mexico (or at least reading about it).

RELATED: How to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead

Golin Harris, a worldwide public relations agency, recently conducted a nationwide survey of Hispanic adults.

Here are their findings:

  • 28 percent of the people surveyed said they celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
  • The top three ways in which people celebrate this holiday include buying or baking pan de muerto (25 percent), visiting a cemetary (21 percent) and building an altar (17 percent).
  • The top five reasons why people said they celebrate Day of the Dead include family togetherness (52 percent), maintaining traditions (51 percent), the food associated with the traditions (46 percent), teaching the traditions to their children (39 percent) and having the ability to share the best of both worlds of their Latino and American heritage (37 percent).
  • Where are people celebrating Día de los Muertos? Of those surveyed, 37 percent lived in the West, 29 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest and 21 percent in the South of the United States.

Keep reading for a cool infographic that Golin Harris shared with us…… 

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