The name Food for the Dead weighs heavily on the name of Mexico’s defining festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). On the first two days of November, across Mexico, families visit the graves of their departed relatives. The graves are cleaned and decorated with flowers (Marigolds & Chrysanthemums) and candles, and families gather together to celebrate the lives of the departed.
In contrast to USA’s Halloween, this festival is a celebration and people bring the favorite dishes of the deceased as offerings along with other treats the departed enjoyed, including toys, fruit, tequila, mescal and cigarettes. Stories are told, musicians play, and a feast is had.
In the cities, parades are held and people dress in costumes. Traditionally, friends and family exchange sugar skulls to ward off the fear of death. Food for the Dead is all about fiesta food. You don’t have to gather in the cemeteries to enjoy the dishes in this book, but by all means invite your friends around, create a feast, mix some drinks and perhaps light a candle in memory of those who can’t be there with you!
Born in Los Angeles and raised between California and New Zealand, Callinan’s passion for Mexican food was shaped during his formative years in the beach cities of Southern California. Frequent family holidays to Baja in the 80‘s ignited a passion for grass-roots street food, fueled by the taco carts on the dusty streets of Ensenada and lobster shacks on the cliffs at Puerto Nuevo. Tijuana border traffic was an opportunity to watch human blow-torchers spraying huge jets of fire out of their mouths for pocket change while munching on piping hot churros sold thru the car window. These trips formed the backbone of an enduring love for Mexico, its people and its food. Callinan’s palette developed more fully in the 90’s on his travels deeper in to Mexico where he himself in pueblo life. In Food for the Dead, Sean explores a wide range of authentic Mexican flavors within easy reach of the home cook. Sean Callinan lives in Qld, Australia, with his wife Anna and two children Charlie & Grace.