Food and Death

Because I couldn’t come up with a nice introduction for this story, I will start with explaining you what you see on the picture. You probably do not recognise it, but the most important thing you see on the picture is one of the basic necessities of life: food.

Maybe for you food is just food that you need to be able to live. Here in Mexico I sometimes get the impression that it is the other way round: A Mexican lives to be able to eat food. They do not only eat it, they spend a lot of time in preparing it, they talk (a lot) about it and I am sure they even dream about it. A disadvantage however is unfortunately that for many Mexicans food also became a more than necessary part of their body. Why that is the case becomes especially clear on national holidays, days with a lot of food, days like ‘Dia de los Muertos’.

Since more or less two months ago, I started playing trumpet in an orchestra in Campeche. In that orchestra I got to know some people who invited me to come with them to a village called Dzibalchen to celebrate ‘Dia de los Muertos’. In advance, I was very excited to celebrate this in Dzibalchen because I thought a lot would happen there because of this day. Afterwards I was for that part a little bit disappointed because actually we didn’t do more for the ‘muertos’ than going to the graveyard to lay some flowers. However, at the same time I also realized that the weekend was actually very Mexican and you probably already know why: indeed, there was a lot of food.

This weekend the most important food was pibipollo. What it is like is difficult to explain. What is more interesting to know is that one of the first questions Mexicans often ask to me if I ever ate pibipollo and that one month in advance half of my Facebook newsfeed was covered with posts of pibipollo. I think I don’t have to explain anymore that it is very delicious and special. What makes it so special (the traditional version at least) is that they cook it underneath the earth where the ancestors are buried to suck up the taste of death.

For the latter you especially need a lot of patience. In the Mexican pace this means at least 6 hours. First you dig a hole and then a fire has to be started in the hole. You place rocks on top of it, after which the pibipollos can actually be made by the women. The pibipollos are placed on top of the rocks, that are covered again by leaves and earth. After two hours the delicious pibipollos are finally ready to eat. And now the food become part of the Mexican body. Besides the pibipollo we also ate tacos, tamales torneados, tamales coceados, tamalites de maíz nuevo, tamalites de maíz nuevo con canela, elotes, pan de elote, papas, atole, chirmole , and more pibipollo.