Where does the time go? 2017 is flying by. It’s already Halloween next week. I love the fall holiday season, and this year, I was thinking of how I could cook a Halloween-themed dinner for adults. This means no abundance of candies, no ghoulish eyeball soup, no pumpkin everything. After days of mulling over how I could create a cohesive holiday meal, I decided to take the easier (and, in my opinion, more sensible) route and cook a Día de los Muertos dinner.
Quick cultural lesson: El Día de los Muertos translates to “the day of the dead” and is a traditional Mexican holiday taking place from October 31st to November 2nd. It is a period when the deceased are remembered and honored by setting up altars with offerings of their favorite foods. Growing up in a Vietnamese Buddhist family, we celebrated a similar memorial day every year on the anniversary of the departed family member’s death. A feast would be cooked, and the food would be placed on the altar in front of their framed photo. Joss sticks would be lit, a prayer would be said, and then everyone gets to eat, but only after the joss stick has finished burning, symbolizing that the offering has officially been received by the departed.
I picked barbacoa tacos as the recipe to share with you this día de los muertos as: (1) it’s Mexican, and (2) it’s kind of Halloween-themed in that barbacoa is typically made from a cow’s head, and you know how Halloween foods tend to circle around body parts.
In the case of these barbacoa tacos, in addition to oxtail and chuck, I use beef cheeks, which are tender when braised. Serve them up with other Mexican favorites like elote, and you’ve got yourself your own día de los muertos celebration.
Happy Halloween and Day of the Dead to all of you!
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