Published 14 October 15 12:28 PM

By Dania Vargas Austryjak Wednesday, 2015-10-14 (09:26:04)

A pan dulce to celebrate A festivity for the dead might seem a little strange for some cultures; but in Mexico celebrating those who have left this world and remembering them in a happy way, is part of the colorful culture and traditions of the country. During the celebrations of Day of the Dead in Mexico, there is one delicious element that can be enjoyed for more days than just those of the festivity, and that is no other than pan de muerto or bread of the dead. Pan de muerto is a type of bread that is prepared and eaten during October and during Day of the Dead celebrations, which take place every November 2nd; besides it is a vital element for the altars. The origin of this peculiarly-named bread, dates back to pre-Hispanic times, and there are several versions and no clear answer on what is the exact background of this treat. dia de muertos


Some legends indicate that ancient civilizations performed human sacrifices to honor their deities, one of these rituals required to take the heart of a princess and place it in a pot with amaranth; the ritual leader would have to bite the heart, as a sign of gratitude. The bread making came in when the Spaniards forbade any of these sacrificial rituals, ergo the pre-Hispanic people started making bread in the shape of a heart and covered in red sugar to resemble the blood. Another not-so-graphic version of the story, tells that the bread was prepared to symbolize the heart of an idol, followed by a symbolic sacrifice, which consisted of removing the “heart” from the deity, in order to be shared with the rest of the people. Detalle de un pan de muerto But no matter where the origin of pan de muerto is, this bread represents the dead: its traditional round shape represents the body, the bone figures that decorate it all across the sides, represent the extremities and the round piece in the middle, on top represents the skull. There are different shapes and presentations of this bread: some bread makers cover them in sesame seeds, colored sugar and regular sugar. Pan de muerto is a butter-based bread with orange blossom and anise scents, it has a soft flaky brioche-like interior; the crust is thin and golden and many people love the “bones and skull” pieces because they get a little crispy on the outside. Some modern bakeries put delicious fillings in the bread, such as pastry cream or hazelnut-chocolate cream, other people prefer to eat this bread just with a hot cup of coffee or chocolate. But it doesn’t matter how you like your pan de muerto, as long as you share it with your loved ones, dead or alive.


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