Halloween traditions have been alive and well for quite a while, all around the world. In much of Latin America, the Halloween season is Dia de Los Muertos season, or the Day of the Dead in English. As with most holiday seasons, food is a big part of the celebration. For this Halloween season, the Guac Shop wants to help you celebrate the dead.

We’ve compiled a few traditional Mexican dishes for your Day of the Dead celebration and provided links to their recipes along with some of the history behind them. The recipes are all relatively simple to make, but, if you’re putting together a celebration at the last minute, then utilize our Mexican catering services at the Guac Shop! We’ll make sure that your class, party, or family has the tasty Mexican food they need to fully embrace the Day of the Dead in Garden City.

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Traditional Mexican Day of the Dead Foods

When it comes to the Day of the Dead foods, families traditionally prepare specialty recipes for the holiday as well as the favorite foods of those who were recently deceased. In the spirit of supporting that tradition, our list includes foods you’d typically only see during the holiday season and a couple of the U.S.’s favorite Mexican foods.

Pan De Muerto (Bread of The Dead)

Pan de Muerto, or Bread of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican dish that is mostly reserved for the Day of the Dead and is adorned with a design that incorporates the look of bones. This sweet, cinnamony bread traces its roots all the way back to Spain, where Spaniards would offer bread to the souls of their fallen family members to let them know they’re being remembered and to ask for their protection. At the time, the holiday was called “All Saints Day,” and the bread that was offered was often just the most popular bread of the area, but in Mexico, this tradition has evolved into the sweet piece of art it is today. You can find the recipe here.

Calabaza en Tacha (Candied Pumpkin)

Calabaza en Tacha, or candied pumpkin, is one of those dishes that can vary greatly from region to region or house to house. Some versions are pieces of pumpkin that are sweetened and simmered in the juices of other fruits and simply served with condensed milk on top, while others are pieces of pumpkin swimming in a sweet-fruity sauce, and still others are pieces of pumpkin with a candy coating and other pieces of fruit thrown in.

Pumpkins play a big role in our Halloween and fall celebrations, and it’s no different south of the border. The use of pumpkins — and their status as a holiday food — in Latin America goes back thousands of years to the Aztecan societies that preceded more modern Latino cultures. The Aztecan people used pumpkin shells as cups, ground the seeds and added them to sauces, and even buried their dead alongside pumpkin remains.

The Aztecs celebrated a holiday called “Mictecacihuatl,” which was to honor the Queen of the Underworld and the dead. This holiday eventually merged with the Catholic “All Saints Day,” to form what is now known as the Day of the Dead. While Calabaza en Tacha is served throughout the harvest season, it’s seen in great quantities at many Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. For a simple, quick version, check out this recipe.

Jamoncillo De Leche (Milk Fudge)

A version of dulce de leche, this Mexican spin on the treat provides a classic taste along with the vibrant colors that are associated with the Day of the Dead. 

Dulce de leche is another food that goes back hundreds of years and there are different versions of it all over Latin America. Originally produced in temperate cattle-raising regions around the 16th century, this treat has now been sold and commercialized around the world.

Marigold-Pressed Tortillas 

A holiday spin on the classic foundation of so many Mexican foods, these are a great DIY option for someone who wants to add authenticity to their Day of the Dead celebration, but doesn’t have the time to learn new recipes. 

The marigold is used both as a decoration and an ingredient in Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. This edible flower and its use in Day of the Dead celebrations and Mexican foods again traces its roots back to the Aztecs. The Aztecs would use the flower to decorate the altars of their fallen loved ones or their royalty, and that has carried on today into the Mexican tradition of doing the same, except usually in the form of a garland.

While the flower is beautiful to look at, it also adds a pleasing flavor to things like poultry, tea, tortillas, and mixed drinks. This tortilla recipe is a great way to put a Day of the Dead spin on classic Mexican foods — offered by our catering services — and your Garden City celebration.

Celebrate Mexican Food BannerTamales 

Tamales are one of the most classic Mexican foods in the eyes of Americans, and with roots tracing back as far as 8,000 B.C., it shouldn’t be a shock that they show up at many Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. If they weren’t one of the most favored foods of the dead, then they probably wouldn’t have lasted this long as a staple of Latin cuisine.

In Mesoamerica, predating even the Aztecs, tamales were established as an efficient way to carry food on long journeys. Soldiers and hunters alike would carry tamales with them and could simply unwrap them or heat them up, depending on the circumstances. They’d also be prepared for certain rituals. The authenticity of this dish is solidified by a few things. They’ve almost always been stuffed with a corn dough filling, they’ve almost always been steamed in banana leaves or corn husks, and there are hieroglyphics from ancient civilizations that depict the making of tamales.

If tamales are something you’d like for Dia de Los Muertos, here’s one of the many versions you could go with. 

Fall Guacamole 

If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing Mexican food, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. Present at many Day of the Dead celebrations because of the general popularity of the dish, you can make some simple additions to the dish to give it more of a fall flavor. Simple additions like rosemary, sage, and pomegranate can make for a flavorful dish that matches the season. With the Guac Shop’s catering services, you can add your own spin to our tasty guac!

This dish also traces back to the Aztecs, who called it “ahuaca-mulli,” which translates to avocado sauce.

Celebrate With Mexican Catering From The Guac Shop!

Not everyone has time to prepare a fiesta’s worth of food or learn new recipes. Luckily for you, all your Mexican catering needs can be handled by the Guac Shop! If you’re having a Day of the Dead celebration in Garden City, give us a call!