Monday, November 3

Hotcakes para Los Muertos

I've been floundering.
Last weekend was Dia de Los Muertos and it was incredible. I've been grappling with how and what to write all week.

Should I focus on all the food I ate? Can I even remember all the food I ate? What about all the crazy things I saw? What about the incredible art and costumes? What about the more serious and touching aspects of the holiday? What about the holiday itself? How can I blend all of these and throw out a delicious recipe with my usual charm and wit?

On top of these downward-spiraling questions, I was feeling especially Un-charming and witless this week. I was struck with a serious bout of food poisoning Monday, amidst a review I was holding for the first major English exams (don't worry, this isn't going to be another long, drawn-out puking story, but I am considering renaming my blog "Vomiting through Oaxaca"). So recovery and examinating Oaxaca's youths has absorbed me.

But now, dear friends and family, it is Friday. I am finished with preparing, giving, stressing, and grading and have tested the strength of my stomach with one of Miahuatlán's finest hamburguesas. I feel good.

So back to El Dia. I spent the weekend in Oaxaca city with Matthew and two of his good friends (or Canadian reprobates as he's fond of calling them). It was one of those weekends that was so active that on Monday things I did Friday felt like they happened weeks ago.

The city was wild. Altars with food, drinks, photos, flowers, and many other things to commemorate the deceased, were everywhere (ofrendas is the name, I think). Sand paintings of skeletons and saints decorated with marigolds lined the streets and sidewalks. Children dressed as dead brides and devils paraded through the colonial streets and graveyards. Families visited cemeteries and held gatherings. It was such an amazing combination of these very touching memorials, these intricate and temporary religious pieces, and a crazy celebration.

My head is reeling as I try to describe and include all the various activities and eats, so here are some photos to help me clarify how incredible it all was.

Sand-painting about to be tromped by
a parade of little dead brides and devils

Flores. Flores para los muertos!!!

Pan de muerto
There were all kinds. Huge loaves, loaves shaped like bodies, but they all had these little heads in them (representing the dead) and are a little sweet and flavored with anise.

In the evenings we ventured to the Panteon General (the main cemetery in Oaxaca). Outside was like a carnival, street food, games, etc. Inside was very solemn with more altars, sand paintings, and an amazing choir and string ensemble. Everything was lit by candles placed in the niches along the wall--which were graves too. We listened to the music and walked around the cemetery.

Outside, we played some games and ate a bunch of food. Including some not very delicious yellow mole and some very delicious mini hotcakes with honey and cajeta (or as I like to call it--goat caramel.) The night was pretty cold and these babies were soft, warm, and sweet--and they were little, silver dollars always taste better to me.

I remembered how awesome hotcakes can be. I generally am a savory breakfast girl and I always get annoyed at how soon I'm hungry again if I make a meal of hotcakes (damn empty carbs). As an evening snack, dessert, or an accompaniment to eggs--well, then I'm down with the hc's.

I was originally thinking I would try my hand at a traditional food associated with dia de los muertos, like tamales, hot chocolate, or a mole. But I have hotcakes on the brain. So I decided to take elements from the tamales and hot chocolate traditions and work these into some hotcakes.

Cornmeal hotcakes with Chocolate and bananas
I was originally going to make these monday, but because of my incapacitation (wheee...bleh) and exam craziness, I have yet to make them. I'm aiming for tonight, so this is a recipe in the raw...vaya con dios

3/4 C Flour
1/2 C Cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs
3/4 C Milk
4 Tbsp Butter (for frying)

Mix all ingredients except for the butter, Nutella, and bananas. Heat griddle over medium-low heat. Melt two tablespoons of butter in griddle. Spoon batter (about two tablespoons per cake, really as big or little as you like) onto griddle. Fry about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown and puffed. Top with Nutella and bananas to your specific whim. Feast.

*I was planning on concocting a chocolate syrup with some of the spiced elements of my hot chocolate recipe, but Nutella is so wonderful, why overcomplicate things?

I made them! They were delicious!
Check the consistency--you may need to add a little more milk.

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