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All Saints Day or Dia de los Muertos–November 1st

October 31, 2012

Marigolds, used in the celebration of the Day of the Dead.

Families tidying and decorating graves at a cemetery.

Dia de los Muertos—-All Saints Day

In Mexico and throughout Central America, November 1st is a special time to celebrate. It is the time to remember the dead. Traditionally, family and friends gather at the loved ones grave and say prayers for those who have passed on. Many people bring food and drink that their loved ones cherished. The marigold flowers decorate most head-stones, as it is believed to attract the spirit of the departed. If the spirit returns, they will remain for twenty-four hours, so this is a special time to celebrate the return of those passed.

If you read Big Backpack–Little World, you may remember how I loved All Saints Day in Guatemala. This is the day the huge kites are flown, and my favorite food (Fiambre) is prepared. For those people who have not eaten this treat from Guatemala ,I have included a recipe. Don’t be concerned if one or more items is not available in your area, it is left up to who ever is preparing it as to the ingredients. Every woman has her own special recipe.


SERVES 12–16


¾ cup chopped parsley
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. capers, drained
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 scallions, roughly chopped
1 7-oz. jar pimientos, drained
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
1 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached and cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. medium peeled shrimp, boiled
1 lb. peeled  potatoes, boiled and halved
8 oz. cooked uncured chorizo sausage, cut into ¼″ slices
8 oz. cooked linguiça sausage, cut into ¼″ slices

8 oz. peperoni, cut in strips
4 oz. baby peas
3 oz. salami, cut into ½″ strips
3 oz. ham, cut into ½″ strips 1 cup frozen peas
4 medium carrots, cut into ½″ rounds
4 ribs celery, cut into ½″ slices
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, boiled until tender
4 medium beets, roasted, peeled, and quartered
8 oz. farmer’s cheese or feta
3 oz. mini gherkins, drained
3 oz. Spanish olives, pitted
5 radishes, quartered
4 boiled eggs, quartered


Puree ½ cup parsley, vinegar, capers, mustard, scallions, pimientos, and garlic,  in a blender. Drizzle in oil until emulsified; season with salt and pepper and set vinaigrette aside. Toss chicken, shrimp, potatoes, chorizo, linguiça, green beans, salami, ham, peas, carrots, celery, and cauliflower with ¾ cup vinaigrette in a bowl. Toss beets with ¼ cup vinaigrette in another bowl. Cover both bowls; chill for several hours, or up to one day to blend flavors. Arrange lettuce on bottom of a large platter; top with marinated meats and vegetables. Garnish with beets, cheese, gherkins, olives, radishes, and eggs; sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day on November 1, any way you like, but it is a good time to remember those who have passed, and perhaps their souls will return for a visit.

Gracias y Adios

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