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Food To Honor The Dead

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Erik Neumann
Baker David Ramos prepared pan de muertos at Panaderia Alicia's.

Halloween is over but for some people in Salt Lake City’s Latino community, November first and second are better known as a time to remember deceased family members for Day of the Dead. It’s a holiday with its own special food.

In the bakery of Panaderia Alicia’s in West Valley City, the air smells sweet. Three bakers are rolling out wide sheets of dough with huge silver rolling pins.

Ezequiel Martinez, the head baker here, is standing next to an industrial mixer with a huge sticky ball of dough spinning inside. It’s for today’s special recipe.

"The dough is almost ready," Martinez says. "This is only for the season, special bread. And it’s just one time a year."

Martinez is making Pan de Muertos – Mexican bread of the dead. Today and tomorrow, people from Mexico like Martinez, are celebrating the Day of the Dead. They’ll set up alters and include bread like this in honor of deceased family members. 

"We put an alter for my little brother," he says. "We put an alter, like some fruit or food, and bread."

After the loaves are done cooking, the bakers will decorate them using lemon flavoring and powdered sugar for white bodies, and red sugar on top for blood.

"It’s a little different bread. More butter, more sugar." It’s like a traditional cake, he says, but just once a year. Something special.

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