Everything I know about Dia del Los Muertos I learned from watching the Disney animated movie Coco. I am actually surprised I learned anything since the tears in my eyes were clouding my vision and the sound of my own sobs were drowning out the TV. I love my family, all of them, I love when they are around me and the thought of them gone makes me cry, apparently even during cartoons.
But this day, this Dia de los Muertos, when we remember our loved ones and we prepare their favorite food in an effort to warm our hearts and feel their presence, me encanta, I love this day. I love Dia De Los Muertos.
So here is the thing, I have had my own Dia de los Muertos for years but on only on Navidad (psst…that’s Christmas) and also very clueless that this is what I was celebrating.
My dad died my senior year of college from MS. It was an accelerated case, and he was young, days away from celebrating his 40th birthday.
But prior to this dreadful day my dad proudly took his smoking hot California bride back to his home state of Kentucky and when they arrived she was swiftly dragged into the kitchen by a bunch of southern women, talking fast with a slow drawl asking my mom how she made her biscuits and gravy. I imagine my mom opening her mouth and no words coming out, not even a sound just a big hole on her face wanting to participate but again not even a y’all popping out. Seeing the panic in her eyes my Kentucky female family showed her how to make biscuits and gravy, a southern staple something a bride should know how to make for her husband. Cast iron skillets flew out of drawers, an apron was tied around her waist and with a quick spin she was standing in front of the stove when one of the women commanded, “Fry the bacon, fry the sausage – but don’t burn them, there’s no place for that taste in this recipe baby girl.” Next a rue. “Oh yeah right, where do I get the rue?” My poor mom didn’t have much experience cooking. But the lesson continued with the smiling elders and before they let her escape, I mean visit, she had made her first batch of the dish we’d come to love.
What comes next likely seems obvious, that year my dad died in 1996 was painful. I ached for him to see me graduate, I was confused and angry and sad – yep those stages are definitely a thing. And so, in an attempt to connect with him I asked my mom to make biscuits and gravy for Christmas breakfast. And so it began and for 26 years every Christmas morning and on my own private Dia De Los Muertos it starts with…”fry the bacon…”.
In Bags and Belly Laughs,