The Art of Darkness

Death Takes a Holiday

November 1st, 2008 by Cobwebs

Calaveras by Flickr user dr. frenchieDia de los Muertos is today (or tomorrow, depending upon who’s doing the counting). If you don’t want the Halloween atmosphere to end just yet, throw an impromptu Day of the Dead dinner!

The Day of the Dead is a festive holiday, so you want a festive atmosphere. Pile gourds and chiles on the table, and sprinkle marigolds (which are reputed to attract the souls of the dead) around. Use tall votive candles to add some height to the display. String colorful paper garlands around the room; if you live near a Mexican market, look for papel picadillo (paper cutouts) for a little authenticity.

Set out bowls of different kinds of salsa and tortilla chips, preferably homemade. (Cut corn tortillas into wedges, fry in hot oil for a few seconds, sprinkle with salt. Easy!)

As a party favor, give your guests a Mexican Hot Chocolate kit: A disk of Mexican chocolate (which includes cinnamon and almonds), a cone of Mexican brown sugar, and a generous mug. Attach a recipe instructing your guests to break off a small chunk of the sugar (a tablespoon or so, or to taste), add it to 2 cups of milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the chocolate and stir until it begins to melt, then remove from the heat and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is frothy. Pour into mugs and serve immediately. (Spike with a little Kahlua if the spirit moves you.)

For dinner, serve traditional Mexican dishes. These soups make nice starters. Serve them individually, or do a two-tone thing: Simultaneously ladle generous 1/2 cup of each soup into shallow bowls, allowing them to meet in the center. Top with cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, and/or sour cream. Each soup serves 4 individually, so they’ll serve 8 if ladled together.

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