Oaxaca and the Day of the Dead

Tomorrow is Day of the Dead in Mexico. If you’ve never been to Oaxaca for the holiday, you owe it to yourself to plan a trip. Here’s how I’m going to celebrate the Day of the Dead here in the States.

I’ll start by gathering up all the marigolds not hit by our recent freeze. I’ll spread them all across the table mixed with votive candles, so it resembles a Mexican cemetery. Next, I’ll bring out my best Mexican textiles from the Fabrica de Aurora in San Miguel de Allende and my vintage Uriarte pottery from Puebla (I’ll be blogging about that at a later date), and finally I’ll be making Rick Bayless’s recipe for Chicken in Oaxacan Black Mole. I was going to include the recipe, but the whole thing was over a thousand words. Just google it, and you’ll find it. He made this dish for the White House State Dinner honoring former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, so it’s all over the internet.

Yes, it’s a labor of love and also a meditaton on people we’ve lost. In my case, it’s my mother who first took me to Mexico.

We’ll put Lila Downs on the cd player and light the candles. We’ll toast our loved ones who have crossed over with tequila in Mexican blown glass, glass which Harriet Doerr  once described as the “color of a wave breaking on a beach in September.”

We’ll toast Harriet Doerr, too, author of the wonderful book Stones for Ibarra, and Octavio Paz, and Roberto Bolano. You can see we feel that the writers we love are like family. They’ve had such a huge influence on our lives.

Last time I had this dish, Dave and I were in Teotitlan del Valle at the wonderful Medoza sister’s restaurant Tlamanalli, which means offering in Zapotec.

This meal will be my offering to the dead and the living, as well.

Look at Tlamanalli’s kitchen, which is open to the dining area.

Why I love Mexico!

I just realized my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly opens on The Day of the Dead. Vivienne, my protagonist’s sister, had been celebrating with friends at Restaurant Izote in the Polanco district of Mexico City. What happens after that starts the whole story . . .

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