I think I first became aware of the Mexican Day of the Dead after reading Malcolm Lowry's novel, "Under the Volcano". There was also a film with Albert Finney and the She-Who-Can-Do-No-Wrong Jacqueline Bisset, in which Finney plays a drunken British diplomat.
Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 2nd. It's an extraordinary festival: families pray for the souls of the departed, and death is celebrated with dancing, sugar skulls, flowers, colourful altars and carnival.
I love authentic Mexican food, and it's only recently that the proper thing has begun to arrive in London. Up until now, we've had to put up with Tex-Mex restaurants (as beloved by students and the disenfranchised); the sort of places where they make you wear silly hats and pour Margaritas down your throat; not the same deal at all. Incidentally, I once had a fantastic chivichangas (fried burritos) at a drive-in gas station in San Diego, a few miles from the Mexican border. You paid a dollar or so through a grill, and then a few minutes later a tanned hairy hand appeared through a hole in a wall with your hot food. Fast Food in the best sense.
We're going to cook something Mexican tonight. I like Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz's book "The New Complete Book of Mexican Cooking". "Fish in Almond and Coriander Sauce" (Pescado en Salsa de Almendra Verde) is on the menu.
First, you simmer some non-oily white fish (cod?) in stock. Normally, I would place the fish in the cold water or fish stock, and then bring to the boil. Once it's simmering, I immediately turn off the heat and put on the lid, and then leave the fish to "cook" in the hot water for about five to ten minutes. You'll find this is an excellent way to cook fish, and will give you perfect results every time.
Remove the fish, and set aside. Pour the hot fish stock into a jug. In a small frying pan, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil, and fry a clove of garlic with a slice of white bread, until the bread is golden on both sides. Remove the garlic and chop up the fried bread, coarsely. In your food processor, whizz up the chopped fried bread, 50g (2oz) finely ground almonds, two jalapeno chillies (de-seeded and chopped) and half a cup of fresh chopped coriander leaves; and then thin it out with the reserved stock. Heat, check the seasoning and pour over the fish. Serve with rice.
I've got no idea what this is going to be like, but it sounds interesting, and the cooking techniques are relatively simple.