The Bread of Dia De Los Muertos

If it seems little morbid, well, that's because it is. Dia de los Muertos, November 1, is a day to celebrate those who have died. But, the key word is to "celebrate," not mourn.

Manual Tellez, who owns Maroches Bakery in Oak Cliff, explains that in Mexico people spend the entire day and night at the gravesides of their loved ones, "Imagine a flea market in a cemetery. That's what it looks like. Every grave is decorated differently and people spend the entire night."

The tradition actually goes back to the indigenous pagan tribes of Mexico, long before the Spanish conquest, when there were human sacrifices to the gods. The traditional bread that goes along with this holiday, pan de muerto, is adorned with a cross of bones and a skull.

For the past month, Tellez has baked hundreds of loaves a day. He said the holiday is becoming more popular lately. Last year Tellez estimates he sold more than 1,000 loaves and will easily sell more than that this year.

He has just four people working at his bakery and his mother does most of the baking. Other than a large dough mixer, everything is made by hand.

Several years ago Cindy Pedraza at CocoAndre had a small Dia de los Muertos block party, and every year the event gets bigger as the local community rediscovers the tradition, "A lot of Hispanics don't even know about it, so we're actually teaching people about it now."

This year CocoAndre and Maroches Bakery have collobarated for a bigger party. Starting at 5 p.m. they'll have bands, tons of food and, primarily, they'll celebrate the dead.

Maybe a sign promoting the event explains it best: "November 2nd. Dia de los Muertos. Yeah ... we got tired of Halloween."

CocoAndre has chocolate skulls at their shop in several different sizes, and Maroches bakes bread throughout the day. For more information on the block party, check the Maroches Facebook page.