Have some festive Halloween activities lined up? Carving a pumpkin or bobbing for apples? Let me add one to your list.
This past weekend while in the spirit of late October, a friend and I attended a sugar skull workshop hosted at Huitzilli in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sugar skulls are a traditional candy associated with Dias de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico. Like the Celtic origins of our Halloween, November 1 was once thought of as a New Year. The Druids believed that the night before, October 31st, the worlds between the living and the dead became blurred. They believed that the dead would come back and cause mischief. The Mexican holiday, Dias de Los Muertos, alters are made where offerings of a past the departed loved ones' favorite food, sugar skulls and memorabilia is put to encourage a friendly visit.
The candy is made from a kind of meringue, very simply meringue powder, sugar and water. The rest is not terrible different than decorating a cake. There is a great step by step on Gourmet Sleuth, http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Entertaining-Holidays-651/sugar-skull-making.aspx.
So why did I choose sugar skulls this year? Although it is fun to think of Halloween as a spooky night of mischief, this year I would rather cherish and celebrate the lives of the loved ones I lost. I would like to think of them visiting for a night and indulging in the pleasures that I so often take for granted.