Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinner of the Day of the Dead

This is Cadence, the younger of our two intrepid, amazing daughters. Cadence has spent the past two years studying mariachi music in Mexico City, then a year studying documentary filmmaking in Prague.  Now she is home, for a while anyway, and she and just hosted a fabulous feast at our farm celebrating the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead.
Cadence spent most of the past month scrupulously cleaning the south wing of the barn, decorating and transforming it into a delightful "cafe", and planning a three course traditional Mexican meal for 36 people.  You would not believe the transformation of the barn unless you had seen it before, when it was full of farming equipment and cobwebs.
For several weeks we both worked late into the nights making papier mache masks, skulls, pinatas and tissue flowers to adorn the barn.
Part of the  Day of the Dead tradition includes creating an altar to honor a loved one who has passed on.  Cadence gathered materials for the shrine.
Cooking for the dinner began several days in advance. On the left are fried plantain strips to garnish the  cochinita pibil (roasted marinated pork wrapped in a banana leaf.) On the right are fried tortilla strips for the first course, Aztec tortilla soup. The wonderfully delicate soup has has avocados, queso fresco, cilantro, dried peppers and the crispy tortilla strips in a light tomato broth.
Candied orange peel to garnish one of the desserts, traditional flan, made with fresh farm eggs.
The day before the  party Cadence  prepared the stuffed poblano peppers for the chili rellenos. Here she is  dredging them in flour,  immersing in an egg batter and frying them. Darn, I did not get photos of the pork or turkey! Both were impressive - and local (the turkey from our farm and the pork from Hidden Streams farm.)
The first  few chili rellenos. They are served in a tomato sauce with cilantro-lime rice. I was a waiter, and serving at the party was so crazy busy I did not get photos of any of the finished dishes: Aztec tortilla soup, cochinita pibil, turkey mole guajolote, chili rellenos de queso, or the three decadent desserts: classic flan, chocolate torte, and tres leches cake.
The traditional flower of Day of the Dead is the marigold. We had lots of marigolds in the veggie garden last summer, but they do not survive frost, so many weeks ago, Cadence transplanted a dozen plants into the high tunnel greenhouse and babied them along, covering them each freezing night. We were able to pick enough surviving marigolds to make a small bouquet for each table.
On Saturday night, our humble barn became a festive dining room full of delightful guests, colorful decor, and delicious smells and  flavors.
Cadence worked feverishly behind the scenes in the summer kitchen, plating the food. She was not very inclined to smile for a photo (Rich can attest to this!) until the very end, the dessert course, when she could relax in her accomplishment.
One of the desserts, chocolate torte, with pomegranate seeds and a dab of exquisite passionfruit jam, made by Cadence's friend Javier in Columbia.
Cadence took a few minutes to explain the Day of the Dead traditions and thank everyone for coming.  The guest donations will help cover the legal costs of getting through the visa requirements to bring Cadence's  husband Israel to the U.S. from Mexico.  Then we will have a real celebration!!
Some of our wonderful guests: Katherine, Phil, Dave, Sue, Mary and Greg.
Vicki and  Richard.
Julie and Chino.
Tom, Christine, Leslie, Betsy, Hannah, and Flo.
Gael and Ray.
Laurel. Ella and Daryn. (Throughout the dinner, vintage  Mexican movies were projected on this east wall.)

I am afraid those are all the photos I took. Sorry  I missed so many of you.

We are so grateful for all of your  participation and your generous support of Cadence's ambitious endeavor!  We can't wait for Israel to get here and for all of us to finally meet him!

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