It's Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday dates back thousands of years to the Aztecs, who honored a goddess named Mictecacihuatl. It is believed that during this festival, spirits are able to intermingle with and visit the living. is the time to celebrate and possibly commune with your departed loved ones. San Francisco's Mission District will be holding its annual Day of the Dead procession tonight at 7PM.
Garfield Park will be the site for the display of altars which will be created to honor and hopefully attract the spirits of missed loved ones. These altars are decorated with offerings (ofrendas), which traditionally include marigolds, sugar skulls, photos and memorabilia of the departed, as well as favorite foods and beverages.
Here is a photo tour of some of the many vibrant murals of Garfield Park and nearby Balmy Alley. In the tradition of Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera, these murals depict themes ranging from age-old folklore to modern politics.
And of course, no celebration is complete without food. Here is an example of pan de muerto ("bread of the dead"), a sweet egg bread made in various shapes including skulls and skeletons, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.
Calaveras, or sugar molded into the form of skulls, are another traditional treat on Dia de los Muertos.
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I'll leave you with a crunchy snack of spiced pepitas
, or pumpkin seeds, perfect for any Day of the Dead celebration. These make a fantastic snack on their own, as a topping to salads or butternut squash soup, or as an addition to trail mix. I also used them to top my pumpkin flan
Mexican Chili-Orange Spiced Pepitas
1 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (not toasted), aka pepitas
grated zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 to1/4 teaspoon cayenne, to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
dash of ground cinnamon
1. Toast pumpkin seeds in oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Combine orange zest, sugar, salt and cayenne .
3. Toss toasted seeds with the spice mixture until evenly coated.
© 2010 Linda Shiue