Day of the Dead brings out flavors of Arizona

Offerings of food are placed for dead loved ones. Photo credit to Flickr user Omar Landeros. Licensed under Creative Commons. http://tinyurl.com/p7mmo9f
Offerings of food and drinks are placed for dead loved ones at altars on Día de los Muertos. Photo credit to Flickr user Omar Landeros. Licensed under Creative Commons. http://tinyurl.com/p7mmo9f

Tucson holds a weekend-long celebration to remember its dead. Sedona has a small gathering in a shopping center for Día de los Muertos. And in Tubac for the first time they are celebrating at a town park, resurrecting a festival that has been largely absent for years.

But no matter where they celebrate and how, food is central to Día de los Muertos.

Día de los Muertos, — “Day of the Dead” or “All Souls Day” — is a holiday where families and friends honor and celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones. They create altars with photos, candles and the favorite food and drink of their dead. Sometimes mariachi groups perform but central to all of the festivities is food.

In recent years, the food aspect has become more integrated with restaurants and food trucks becoming a big part of the events.

The day before the big All Souls Procession parade in Tucson is the Night of the Living Fest at La Cocina Mexican restaurant, which will start at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Jo Schneider, who owns La Cocina on Court Avenue downtown, said along with their regular restaurant menu they will have their LaCo Taco stand at the event and possibly a couple of Tucson food trucks.

“We’ll have plenty of food. People just have to come out and have a good time,” Schneider said. A percent of proceeds will go to the All Souls organizers Many Mouths One Stomach.

The taco stand’s most popular dish is the $3 steak taco. In case you haven’t had your fill of the tacos the night before, you can also get them the day of the procession as La Cocina will be open the for brunch and during the parade.

You can enjoy a margarita at the Night of the Living Fest at La Cocina. Celebrate responsibly. Photo Courtesy of La Cocina.
You can enjoy a margarita at the Night of the Living Fest at La Cocina. Celebrate responsibly.
Photo Courtesy of La Cocina.

Phoenix has its own event revolved around food and the history of the holiday with Cuisine and Culture of Día de los Muertos. The event will be held at the Desert Botanical Gardens on Galvin Parkway from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.

“The event explains the origin of Día de los Muertos,” said Luana Vargas, program director of adult education at the botanical gardens, “[Participants] will be served traditional food that is associated with the holiday.”

That includes chicken mole (chicken served with a chocolate-infused spicy sauce) and enchiladas with rice and refried beans. There also will be complimentary margaritas and chips and salsa.

The town of Tubac will celebrate in Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. It’s a first for the town, which in past years has had similar but much smaller Día de los Muertos celebrations.

Shaw Kinsley, director of Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, said the celebration will be a great way to bridge the cultural gap between the community of Anglos and Hispanics.

“This seemed like the best way to do it,” he said, “It’s going to be educational and fun.”

Though they are not exactly traditional Day of the Dead foods, vendors will be serving up everything from Cold Stone Creamery ice creams to nachos and hot dogs from Hot Dogs Huatabampo. Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project, also known as GUAMAP, will serve tamales and bean and cheese pupusas (a flat burrito).

The celebration will start at 11 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is located on Burruel Street.

 


To learn more:

Phoenix

Cuisine & Culture of Día de los Muertos at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008
When: Friday, Oct. 30 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $69 to general public, $55 for Desert Botanical Gardens members
Phone Number: (480) 941-1225

Tubac

Día de los Muertos Celebration at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, 1 Burruel Street, Tubac, AZ 85646
When: Sunday, Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: $7.50 adults, $2 for children ages 7 to 13, Free for children ages 7 and under
Phone number: (520) 398-2252

Tucson

Night of the Living Fest at La Cocina Restaurant, 201 N Court Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
When: Saturday, Nov. 8 from 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Cost: $12
Phone number: (520) 622-0351


Day of the Dead celebrations around the state:

• Phoenix

La Procesión at Desert Botanical Garden
When: 5 p.m. Nov. 2.
Details: (480) 941-1225
Cost: Included in admission, Members get in free
Chow: Try a traditional Día de los Muertos pastry such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead) from the Mercado (market) that will be in the gardens.

Exhibition of Ofrenda (Offering) at Desert Botanical Garden
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Nov. 2.
Cost: Included in admission, Members get in free
Details: (480) 941-1225
Chow: B.Y.O.F. (Bring your own food). This is a great way to honor your loved ones by bringing their favorite meal, snack or drink to their altars.

• Sedona

Día de los Muertos Celebration at Tlaquepaque shopping village, 336 State Route 179.
When: 4:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2.
Cost: Free.
Details: (928) 282-4838
Chow: Check out El Rincon Mexican restaurant and try their handmade chimichangas in beef, chicken or shrimp. If you have a sweet tooth, they also do cherry, apple or peach chimis.

• Yuma

Día de los Muertos Art and Cultural Kids Event at Girl Scouts Goldsmith Building, 1950 W. Third St.
When: 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 1.
Cost: $5
Details: (928) 782-1599.
Chow: This event is being run by Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, so fingers crossed for Girl Scout cookies! It is a kid’s event, but all ages are welcome.

Jacquelyn Montaño is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at jcmmontano@email.arizona.edu.

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