All Souls Day Recipes
Here in Fuerteventura and across most of Europe, the days after Halloween, are known as All Saints day or All Soul’s day and are days that relatives will visit the graves of the loved ones that have passed, light a candle and say a prayer. In Mexico, this time is known as Día de los Muertos or Day of the dead and it is a huge festival, full of colour, celebration and food! Here in Fuerteventura, there is a very large South American community and lots of shops, restaurants and places which celebrate their customs and still make traditional foods, using all souls day recipes, so it is quite easy to come across some amazing foods, including a wonderful South American bakery in Puerto del Rosario which smells just as good as it tastes.
All Souls Day Celebrations
To give you an insight into the celebrations, they date back around 2-3000 years and originally fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, which nowadays would be around the beginning of August. The original celebrations for ‘DIA DE LOS MUERTOS’ or The Day Of The Dead traditionally lasted for a whole month, but today it lasts just three days but is still a huge and very colourful, if somewhat macabre, affair. But what makes it so special, is that while most of the western world is scared of anything to do with death and all the spooky things that go with it such as Halloween, in Mexico, death is celebrated as a day for the dead to once again walk among the living and enjoy some all souls day recipes and mingle with their relatives.
The festival begins by remembering the children that have passed. It actually begins on the 31st October with living children getting together and making little alters. They are highly decorated and lots of favourite items, such as toys or foods of the departed, are laid out on them. This is a way for the children to ask the little angels or “angelitos” (spirits of the children that have passed ), to come back and visit them for a while.
Day of The Dead
On the first of November, the Day of the Dead commemorates all the adults that have passed. This is a huge festival, with massive, highly-decorated macabre floats, music, street parades and decorations, including sugar skulls, drinks, traditional foods and intricate costumes. Click here for more information and other Day of the dead recipes.
Offerings & Atole
Then the final day takes place on the 2nd. This day is known as All Souls Day in many Roman Catholic countries and is usually celebrated by attending a Mass, visiting graves and lighting cadles for the departed. In Mexico and other parts of South America, during this time, the graves of the deceased will be highly decorated with marigolds and covered in food and offerings for the spirits. Usually the relatives will cook the deceased favourite foods and leave it out for them to enjoy. Other popular offerings are fruit and nuts, pan de muerto or bread of the dead, bottles of tequila or atole for the adults and highly decorated sugar skulls.
One dish which is popular across Mexico is Sopa Azteca, a kind of Tortilla soup. This is a hearty bowl of goodness, which is perfect for the cooler months. It is a real comfort food and a great way to use up yesterday’s tortillas. This traditional soup has been made and enjoyed for centuries and is basically made up of fried corn tortilla pieces, submerged into a broth of tomato, garlic, onion, and infused with chilies and a Mexican herb called epazote, which is also known as stink weed or Mexican tea. You can buy this is some supermarkets here, but if you are struggling, then try adding parsley or coriander instead. It is not exactly the same, as epazote is very fragrant, but it will add a similar flavour.
• 1 Teaspoon of olive oil • 2 cloves garlic (minced) • 1/4 onion (chopped) • 6 fresh tomatoes (chopped into cubes) • 2 hot chilies (chopped) • 800ml of chicken stock • 3 leaves of epazote (or coriander) • Salt & pepper for seasoning • 3 tablespoons olive oil for frying tortillas • 4 corn tortillas (sliced into strips) • 250g panela cheese in small cubes (or ricotta, mozzarella) • 1 avocado (cubed) • 1 teaspoon of paprika • 2 tablespoons cream • 2 chicken breasts (cubed) • Coriander leaves for decoration
Fry your tortilla strips in the hot oil until they are nice and brown, then remove them and drain off the excess oil. In another pan, add the oil, onions and garlic and sauté until transparent. Next add in the chili and fry for a few seconds. Next, add the chicken breasts and cook until the edges of the meat are nicely seared. Then add in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to allow them to soften. Once soft, add in the chicken stock, herbs and season with the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.
When you are ready to serve, you have a choice. Many more upmarket resturants will serve this as a smooth soup, with a few tortillas on the base of the bowl and a couple on the top as decoration. So if this is for you, then simply pass the mixture through a seive or use a hand blender to mix it all together until you achieve the consistency you require. You may need to add a little extra water as it can be quite thick when prepared this way. However, if you like things more rustic and traditional, then take your serving bowls and place the tortilla strips in the bottom. Then simply, scoop out a good serving from the pan and pour the chunky soup over the top. Decorate by crumbling the cheese and avocado on the top of the soup and finish with a swirl of the cream. Garnish with coriander leaves and enjoy.