Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day of the Dead Bread...

For those of you who are still obsessing over Halloween, don't forget that November 1st and 2nd mark traditional Day of the Dead celebrations. The Napa Valley Register features a dazzling Day of the Dead photo by Andrea Roth. Like any dedicated bakery hunter, I value any holiday that glorifies bread products, and this photo features quite a spread.

I can think of no better way to honor the dead than through a bread tribute. And this is the purpose of "“pan de los muertos” (bread of the dead), one of the many objects that family members gather for this holiday to pay tribute to their deceased loved ones. Bakeries that specialize in this type of bread experience a typical spike in sales around the time of this holiday.

This tradition reminds me of one of my favorite movie sequences, from "Man on the Moon" with Jim Carrey. Carrey plays comedian Andy Kaufman, a man who buys milk and cookies for thousands of strangers as one of his last hurrahs after finding out he has lung cancer. (In reality, Kaufman's timing was not quite as touching as it appeared in the film. According to L.A. Weekly, Kaufman did this years before he was diagnosed). I have always remembered that story though, despite the fact that the tricky screenwriters took some liberty with the sequence of events.

That moment on film just seemed so appropriate to me. Kaufman's cookies and milk gesture pays homage to the idea that when it comes to honoring a life, food is everything and everything is food.

Food remains the one constant in our lives. On any given day it is there to feed you, but also to comfort you, thrill you, romance you, make you drool-- even make you feel whole. Whether to celebrate life or celebrate death, food becomes a part of our most meaningful expressions, our most closely held memories. And this is why The Great American Bakery Hunt is a noble hunt indeed.
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