Day of the Dead, San Miguel

For most Americans, Day of the Dead is an unknown holiday; however, in Mexico it is celebrated with much festivity. This pre-Hispanic tradition, blended with Catholicism, takes place on November 2nd. Families join together to honor and remember the dead by building elaborate altars in their homes. Pictures, as well as the personal items and favorite foods of their dearly departed, are placed on the altars. This is done to entice them into returning for the day.

Day of the Dead Alter

Relatives and friends prepare their loved one’s favorite meal, transporting it to the cemetery, where many others have gathered for the feast. Beer, tequila and cigarettes are a common sight resting near the headstones. Mariachis stroll the aisles, where they are asked to play favorite songs of the departed, as the family sings along.

Jardin on Day of the Dead

The main square of San Miguel is also a place to find decorative alters that are left for locals and tourists to admire. They feature intricate designs of orange marigolds, a picture of the deceased and replicas of their favorite foods and hobbies, such as paper maché tamales and a deck of cards.  This wonderful centuries-old tradition brings people together in remembrance and celebration. For it is the time to celebrate the departed’s life, not death.

Lady of Death

Green Mole

“Recipes & Secrets from El Buen Café” cookbook

8 servings

3         poblano chiles

8         tomatillos, husked & rinsed

2         cloves garlic

1/2         cup toasted sesame seeds

1/2          cup toasted almonds

1/2         cup toasted peanuts

1         plantain, peeled & sliced

1         corn tortilla

1/2         cup raisins

1         lettuce leaf

1         tablespoon parsley

1/2         teaspoon cinnamon

1/2         teaspoon black pepper

1         teaspoon cloves

4         cups chicken broth

1         tablespoon vegetable oil

salt, to taste

1. Roast and peel the poblano chiles. Roughly chop and place into a large bowl.

2. Roast the tomatillos and garlic on a baking sheet below the broiler until soft.  Add them to the bowl with the chiles, as well as all the remaining ingredients except the last three.

3. Place the contents of the bowl into a blender jar with the chicken broth and puree until smooth (this may have to be done in two batches).

4. Heat the oil in a large stockpot. When it starts to sizzle, add the puree. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining chicken broth if needed. Season with salt.

For a traditional presentation add a whole, cut-up boiled chicken to the stockpot when the mole is almost done. Transfer to a platter and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.


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