HOW uncertain and distant modern society seems about death — even at funerals! The Bond film Spectre opens with a terrific scene in Mexico during its Day of the Dead festivities over the first two days of November, All Saints and All Souls. The dead are recalled and prayed for. Sharing food is part of the living tradition.
The Mole sauce uses chocolate and spices. You can easily throw in some pre-browned chops or chicken pieces once it is made, to cook through while the sauce reduces.
4 small dried chillies
30g (1 oz) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1½ tablespoons chilli powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon brown (HP) sauce
700 ml (1½ pt) chicken stock
Crumble and dry fry the chillies first. Remove, then melt the butter in the oil and fry off the onion. Add in the spices, and stir through for a minute; then the flour and cocoa, followed by the purée and HP sauce. Cook together, then gradually stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, and reduce and simmer for a good 20 minutes. Add the meat at this stage, and serve when the sauce is thick.
Pan de muerto is often movingly taken to the graveside to be eaten by mourners.
7g sachet (1 teaspoon) dry “easy” yeast
120ml (4 fl. oz) whole milk
90g (3 oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange-flower water
1 orange, grated
1 tablespoon fennel (or anise) seeds
450g (1lb) plain flour
90g (3 oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Stir the yeast into 2 tablespoons of warm water and set it aside under a tea towel for 10 minutes, or until foaming. Heat the butter and milk in a pan to blood temperature. Once combined, beat in the eggs and orange-flower water. Combine the orange zest, flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl, then pour into a well in the middle first the yeasty water and then the milk-eggs mix.
Mix together, and knead to a smooth dough. Lightly oil a large bowl, and let it rise in this, covered, for at least an hour. Once it has doubled, tip out and “knock down” by kneading a little more. Tear off a fist-sized piece and set aside.
Now assemble the bread. If you want individual ones, then divide the dough into pieces the size of your palm and arrange on a baking sheet. Otherwise, shape it into a round. Roll the additional piece into a sausage. Cut one end off and roll into a ball, and cut the sausage in the middle to form a cross atop the dough, with the ball in the centre.
Leave to rise for another 1-2 hours, then bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for about 40 minutes.