Mexican ‘bread of the lifeless’ custom lives on in MoCo
The pan de muerto will not be solely a baked bread; it’s a vital part of the Mexican Day of the Lifeless, celebrated in Nov. 1 and a couple of to honor the reminiscence of the lifeless. Throughout this vacation, which has ancestral roots in pre-Hispanic indigenous commemorations, Mexicans meet to honor their deceased family members, both of their properties or in cemeteries.
Made in a round form, the bread symbolizes the cycle of life and loss of life via which each and every human being passes in response to the Mexican tradition. Within the heart of the bread, there’s a small “ball” that represents the cranium of the deceased.
“It may be made plain or full of salty or candy meals. The salty one doesn’t have sugar on the surface however has sesame seeds and is full of Mexican stew,” baker Carla Mantecon mentioned. “The candy one might be full of hazelnut jam, dulce de leche, and raspberry cream.”
Mantecon, 38, left her native Guadalajara 10 years in the past and settled in Alexandria, Virginia. After months residing in the US, Mantecon mentioned she started to overlook Mexico and its traditions. “I slowly started to note that it was difficult to search out the normal meals of my nation right here, and that’s how I began the concept of my enterprise,” she mentioned.
Mantecon is the pinnacle chef of Cocolita Meals, a connoisseur Mexican meals firm she based in 2016, which operates I supply service and its kitchen is positioned in Washington, D.C. Her firm focuses on pan de muerto and he or she bakes between 3,000 and 4,000 items of bread throughout October and November to serve the DMV space, together with shoppers in Montgomery County reminiscent of Maria Bautista, 39, an immigrant from Honduras.
Bautista says she has at all times been enthusiastic about cooking and studying about Hispanic recipes. After residing in Silver Spring for 3 years, she mentioned that she heard from neighbors that Cocolita Meals had one of the common pan de muerto breads within the space and that the prepare dinner who bakes them simply occurred to have her kitchen within the Nationwide Union Constructing, the place Bautista works in housekeeping.
In the future, to her shock, Mantecon supplied Bautista the chance to show her find out how to bake pan de muerto and proposed to work together with her throughout her days off. “When she gave me a style of the bread, I assumed it was scrumptious and I needed to learn to bake it,” Bautista mentioned.
“Baking the pan de muerto, I realized in regards to the significance of this Mexican custom and that there are completely different slices of bread full of candy and salty fillings,” added Bautista.
The pan de muerto, as an providing to the deceased, is positioned on altars. Folks create an area of their homes the place they place images of their deceased family members and candles, amongst different decorations.
The final days of October and the primary week of November are the busiest for Mantecon, who sells every bit of bread for $2.50. Among the many areas the place she has essentially the most shoppers in Montgomery County are Rockville and Silver Spring, the place there will not be solely a lot of Mexicans but additionally Hispanics from different nations.
“In the previous few 12 months’, I’m proud to say that my shoppers have unfold the phrase and I’ve a rising variety of clients in Montgomery County,” added Mantecon.
Bautista talked about that in gross sales, she may hear clients saying Ah this is superb in Spanish and “this is superb.” “I really feel very proud to be serving to with this essential custom. Additionally, I spotted that Silver Spring’s shoppers will not be solely Hispanics however People too.”
The pan de muerto is greater than only a easy bread; it’s a deep-rooted custom that honors Mexico’s cultural roots.
“With Cocolita, I symbolize Mexico and my roots” Mantecon mentioned. “Past being a enterprise, it’s an honor for me to have the ability to specific my traditions.”
If you wish to learn this story in Spanish, click on right here.