Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Unknown Mami

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 C. from Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami's altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. It's the first time she's ever made one.PHOTO/COURTESY OF UNKNOWN MAMI

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Mexicali.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar honors my daughters’ grandfather, two friends, my tía, my tío, two primos, and my nana (abuela).

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
There is cerveza for my tío (he wasn’t picky, so any will do), cards for solitaire for my nana, cologne for my daughters’ grandfather, mazapan and eyeliner (she was out of it the last time I saw her) for my tía, and flowers and candles for everyone.

Why did 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?
This was my very first Día de los Muertos altar and it made me feel more connected to my culture and family because it brought back memories of my youth and it helped me bond with loved ones I’ve missed. It was a joy to remember them and share their stories with my daughters. My daughters are very young and never got a chance to meet any of the people we are honoring, but now they will hear about them every year.

Any other details you want to share about your altar?
It never occurred to me that I would have so much fun putting together an altar, that I would remember the idiosyncrasies and likes of my departed.

For more photos and a story about Unknown Mami’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Mexican at Heart

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 Jessica Seba from Mexican at Heart.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Jessica Seba

What is your connection to Mexico that makes you participate in this tradition?
I love Dia de los Muertos and everything it represents, not to mention papel picado and cempasuchils are my some of my favorite Mexican things! I thought this year it would be good to make my first altar instead of Halloween decorations.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar is dedicated to my grandpa, who passed away earlier this year.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I put bars of Irish Spring soap on my altar because that scent has always reminded me of my grandpa. I happen to find Walmart selling the soap—which is not a normal shelf item in Mexico—so I grabbed a few boxes. I also put a donkey on there because my grandpa once told the family that if he were to be reincarnated into an animal after he died, he “would be an ass.” He was a real jokester. Other than that, it’s quite hard to find my grandpa’s favorite Polish foods here in Mexico so I didn’t put too much food.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture?
I made an altar because I thought it would be interesting to learn the significance behind what everything meant (the water, the colors, the levels, etc.). Mexico has been overtaken by Halloween celebrations in recent years, so I wanted to do something more traditional.

For more photos and a story about Jessica’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Mexican at Heart.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Muy Bueno Cookbook

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 Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack from Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Día de los Muertos with Muy Bueno Cookbook

Muy Bueno Cookbook's altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF MUY BUENO COOKBOOK

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Our grandmother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Who does your altar honor?
Our grandmother, Jesusita—the matriarch of our familia who inspired us.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
The belief is that visiting souls may be hungry from their long journey and the food and drink is nourishment for their journey back. This year our altar included pan dulce (sweet bread), Mexican candies and veladoras (religious candles). I knew I needed to buy all these goodies to let grandma know I was thinking of her and to welcome her spirit.

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?
It’s a perfect way to honor our grandmother. We are thrilled to educate our children about traditions that are part of our culture. We retell memories of our grandmother to our children and reminisce in the times we shared with her.

For more photos and a story about Yvette’s altar for Día de los Muertos and a recipe for marranitos, click here to visit Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Nibbles and Feasts

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 Ericka Sanchez from Nibbles and Feasts.

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts

Altar for Día de los Muertos by Ericka Sanchez of Nibbles and Feasts. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
Ericka: Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico

A Día de los Muertos altar by Ericka Sanchez

Ericka's altar. PHOTO/COURTESY OF ERICKA SANCHEZ

Who does your altar honor? 
Ericka:
It honors the loved ones our family has lost throughout the years.

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
Ericka: Most of the items displayed on the altar are artwork we’ve collected from our trips to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Torreon. From a paper-mache catrina to clay luchadores, we love bringing home something that we know will have a special place on our altar.

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?
Ericka: We love the time we spend together building the altar, talking about the friends and family we are honoring, the items on display and what they symbolize culturally. This year is special because it is the first year my son is old enough help arrange the cempazuchitl (marigold) blooms throughout the display.

For more photos and a story about Ericka’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Nibbles and Feasts.

Wordless Wednesday: Building my altar for Día de Los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is next week and we’ve begun setting up our altar at home. On Sunday, we started gathering our ofrendas and hung papel picado. It’s nowhere near finished yet, but here’s a sneak peek from a few days ago.

I’ll share more details about the items on the altar as well as who it honors next week.

Tacomiendo: El Borrego Viudo

Yesterday for a late breakfast we drove all the way to José’s favorite place for carnitas, only to find that all they had left were maciza (the “white meat” with no fat or bone), hígado (liver) and riñones (kidneys) – which was not exactly what we were hoping to eat. Unfortunately, when you arrive later in the morning, you risk them running out of the best parts. So we turned around and headed back to the car and resolved to show up earlier another day.

We hadn’t eaten breakfast in anticipation of eating carnitas, so we were starving. The friend we brought with us recommended another taquería not too far away called El Borrego Viudo, or The Widowed Sheep, which is supposedly one of the best taquerías in Mexico City, especially after a night of drinking.

There are only seven items on the menu: al pastor, suadero, longaniza, sesos, lengua, cabeza and tepache (a drink made of fermented pineapple and sugar).

We stuffed our panzas with tacos de suadero, longaniza and al pastor, and drank an apple-flavored soda called Sidral Aga. According to Chilango magazine, it’s the taquería’s red salsa that people love the most but the truth is that José and I didn’t think it was anything phenomenal. What was phenomenal though was the longaniza, which was perfectly spicy and not greasy at all…. 

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