Many wonder what is found after death, and each belief has different answers. The truth is, in this world, All Saint's Day is celebrated with one of the greatest creations of mankind: traditional foods.
Nowadays, Christian and pagan traditions are combined, resulting in a series of delicacies that are worth knowing. For example:
In Ecuador, bread "guaguas"--pieces of bread with the shape of little girls--represent the souls. They are made with a flour dough, high in yeast, and then they are shaped. Children draw the mouth, nose and eyes of these sweet figures and then, after writing their names in the doll's belly, the guaguas are baked in an oven.
These delicacies are then combined with a sweet juice known as "colada", which is prepared with different purple fruits, including blackberries. Some spices are also added to this juice, which then becomes very thick and sweet.
While many cultures from other continents rather not talking about death, in our countries--and especially during the first days of November--that word rules many celebrations. It is a time for Heaven to "open" and souls come back to visit us.
For this reason, in Mexico, people take food to their dead dear ones, sharing with them some earthly pleasures, and light candels in the cementeries to guide their way. In this context, a skull is not an element of terror, but another companion at table, taking part of the celebration.
Mexicans also make the traditional "pan de muerto," which is a sweet bread prepared with a dough that has a delicate orange blossom flavor. This dough is varnished with egg yolk before being baked.
In Guatemala, the traditional dish--prepared by the whole family--is called "fiambre," a delicious combination of vegetables, spices, and varied sausages and hams, bringing together Castilian aromas with native essences. This dish dates back to the XVII century, according to Thomas Gage, who was a traveler that mentioned fiambre in his chronicles as a "cold, delicious dish."
Even though there are regional variations to this recipe, in Guatemala, fiambre is a way of remembering the dear ones who have traveled through the threshold of life.
The ancient tradition indicates that fiambre is accompanied by a dessert that can be made of jocotes, which is a regional fruit, garbanzo beans with honey, or different kinds of pumpkins. In some regions, the tradition is to eat fiambre and the dessert in the cementeries, so that the live and dead relatives can "share" the meal.
Corn "hojuelas" with honey in El Salvador, "humita" in Chile, sweet "antahuahua" dolls (in quechua: "anta" = bread; "huahua" = child) in Bolivia. People from different countries not only keep respect towards their dead relatives, but they also elaborate special dishes to remember them, which illustrates the deep gastronomic roots of our continent.
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