Dead Bread

At El Bolillo on Airline you can buy the traditional skull-shaped loaves of pan de muertos along with cool loaves that look like little bodies. (I assume from the crossed arms across the chest, they are meant to be dead bodies.) Pan de muertos is the traditional bread of Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday celebrated on November 2. You put pan de muertos on your ofrenda (Day of the Dead altar) to nourish the souls of the departed who come to visit.

When I visited Oaxaca to celebrate Day of the Dead some years ago, I saw people carrying pan de muertos from their houses to place on the ofrendas of the people they went to visit. Then they would carry bread from their neighbors' houses back home to put on their own ofrendas. But I can't remember seeing anybody actually eating the pan de muertos. I ate some because I was curious. As I recall, it was pretty plain-tasting. Most of the city's Mexican bakeries will be selling pan de muertos for Day of the Dead parties this weekend along with tastier pastries like pumpkin empanadas and ginger pigs.

If you have a cool ofrenda at your house, please take a photo we can publish and send it to robb@robbwalsh.com.

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