Wordless Wednesday: Calacas

My dear friend Amy who lives in New York, and who I’ve known por toda mi vida, was sweet enough to send me a photo of her with her boyfriend dressed up as calacas for Halloween/Día de Los Muertos to share with Tortilla readers after I gushed over how fantastic they looked. ¡Gracias, Amy!

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m thankful for all my wonderful family, friends and fans who support The Other Side of The Tortilla!

  • Don’t they look great?

Wordless Wednesday: Putting away the decorations

Time to put away my calaveritas until next year! If you want to get a head start for Día de Los Muertos in 2011, check out this great post from SA Cultura on offerings to remember to put on your altar as well as a recipe for sugar skulls that look a lot like mine. Bookmark it for next year so you don’t forget!

This photo was taken with my iPhone 3Gs using the ShakeItPhoto app by Banana Camera Co.

¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

la ofrenda

Today is Día de los Muertos, a day to celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones. It is believed that on this day, the souls of the dead can travel back to earth to be with us. Leaving an altar with an offering for the souls ensures that they will find their way home.

I thought I’d share with you the altar that we made in honor of our family members who have passed away.

The altar includes flowers, religious candles, fruit, tequila, lime and salt, obleas con cajeta, water, dulce de guayaba cristalizada, a miniature tortilla press and molcajete, dolls my Dad brought me from a trip to Mexico when I was a little girl, pan de muerto, a pillow, colorful striped fabric, papel picado brought all the way from Mexico City and a handmade carpeta de encaje (ornamental lace). Confession: I ate the pepitorias that I made for the altar last night before I got the chance to photograph it, I just couldn’t resist.

I was interested in how others around the world constructed their altars and what they looked like so I curated a project you’ll see below. I asked friends, family and strangers on Facebook and Twitter to submit photos of their altars to share here on The Tortilla. I’ll continue to add items to the curated project over the next few days as I continue to receive more photos.

Here are a few more details from our altar in honor of José’s grandparents, my grandparents, and other family members who have passed away, including my uncle who was killed in an accident earlier this year. May their souls rest in peace.

tequila, limón y sal

pan de muerto

View the entire album of our altar by clicking on the thumbnails:

Thank you to everyone who allowed me to share their photos for this curated project. I spent the last few days searching and collecting items posted on Twitter that contributed to it. I hope you enjoy looking at all the photos as much as I did.

Last but not least, muchas felicidades to Marcela from Culture Mami, who won our apron giveaway from last week! I look forward to seeing photos of you wearing your calavera-print apron made by Lisa Renata. :)

  • How are you celebrating Día de los Muertos? Who are you honoring with your ofrenda?



In the days of the Aztecs, Día de Los Muertos was a festival celebrated the entire ninth month of the Aztec calendar, but when the Spaniards arrived in the New World and attempted to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism, the holiday was moved to a single day to coincide with the Catholic All Souls’ Day on November 2.

The Spaniards disliked the indigenous traditions and may have labeled them as barbaric and pagan, but Día de Los Muertos is not as scary – or sad ­– of a holiday as some think. This holiday actually has very sentimental roots. It’s all about celebrating life and honoring the dead.

In some places in Mexico there are parades, people decorate the gravesites of their deceased loved ones and construct altars in their homes with offerings, called ofrendas, for the souls of the dearly departed. Altars often include items like photographs of the deceased, items they may have owned, foods and beverages they may have liked, flowers and even sometimes a pillow and blankets for the souls to rest after their long journey.

Día de Los Muertos is one of the most beautiful and unique holidays in Mexican culture because everyone, young and old, shows their love and respect for the family members and friends that have passed away over the years. Celebrating their lives is also a reminder to the living to cherish their time on earth.

One of my favorite things to do in Mexico City is go to the tianguis, or open-air market. Part of the reason I love them so much is because they’re a vibrant reminder of what it means to truly be alive. I love everything about it: the arts and crafts for sale; the tinkling strains of melodies being played by street musicians; the food stalls with everything from jamoncillo (milk fudge) and dulce de calabaza cristalizada (dried candied pumpkin) to tacos de canasta (tacos in a basket).


On my first visit to the Bazar Sábado in Mexico City’s San Angel neighborhood several years ago I was delighted by all the makeshift stalls selling artisan crafts and every kind of sugary homemade treat I could imagine. Many of the stall owners off the Plaza Jacinto were offering generous samples to entice potential customers to buy a medio-kilo of this or a medio-kilo of that. One of the things that caught my eye at several of the stalls, though, was a hanging treat bag with brightly colored half-moon wafers that had pepitas sticking out of them and some kind of sticky miel holding them together. I was entranced…. 

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Sorteo Tuesday – Día de Los Muertos {GIVEAWAY}

día de los muertos apron

Happy Sorteo Tuesday! Why is it happy? Because sorteo means giveaway en Español!

Día de Los Muertos is coming up next week and I’ve been cooking up a storm to get ready! You can expect to see a recipe posted later this week to help you prepare for the holiday.

If you’re not familiar with Día de Los Muertos, check out SpanglishBaby each day this week for new and interesting posts – they’ve got a whole category on the subject to educate yourself along with fun ideas on how to celebrate with your escuincles (a funny slang term for ‘kids’ that José’s abuelita Ana likes to use). You can read more about the holiday here on Friday alongside a special recipe post, so don’t forget to come back or subscribe via email to get recipes and stories delivered directly to your inbox so you don’t miss it!

I’m a big fan of all things Día de Los Muertos and when I found this fabric with miniature sugar skulls on it, I knew I had to have it. At the cooking demo I did in Miami making albóndigas, I wore a special apron made of this very fabric that my friend Lisa made for me for an extra serving of buena suerte. She was kind enough to ship the apron to me at the hotel I was staying at so that I’d receive it in time to wear for my demo, and it was a huge hit with the audience – in fact, the apron got almost as many compliments as the albóndigas!


los detalles: the ruffled trim and the pleated pocket


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