One of my favorite books is "Frida's Fiestas ~
Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo."
The author is Guadalupe Rivera, daughter of Diego and Lupe Marin (wife before Frida). The book has a chapter for each month of the year and describes how Frida engaged everyone in the celebrations and cooking at Casa Azul. Guadalupe was about 18 (b. 1924) when she and her younger sister, Ruth (b. 1927), came to live there for a period of time with Frida and Diego in 1942. She recounts her fond memories of "Frida's daily life, her habits and personality, and the artistic talent that is so apparent in the works she created between 1940 and 1943."
The recipes are the originals, handed down to Guadalupe from both Frida and her mother Lupe (who taught Frida to cook). Though many of the recipes contain lard, substitutions can be made with other shortenings, whew!
What I like the best about this book however is the photography. Gorgeous photos of Frida's kitchen, dining rooms and other rooms, all bright yellow and blue; her studio, Diego's studio, their wedding table at Tina Modotti's apartment, all recreated by the photographer and Guadalupe, so beautiful. The photos, along with Guadalupe's text, tell an exciting story that you just want to keep reading about!
Frida's kitchen in Casa Azul
Frida's Fiestas was published in 1994 and I wondered if Guadalupe was still living. She is indeed alive, and I discovered that she is a professor of law and I believe is also involved with politics. She is 85 years old, and has written a children"s book titled "My Papa Diego and Me" published this year, 2009.
Above is what looks like a pretty recent picture of her, and below is a video that shows her being interviewed about the new book. She also has written other books about Diego, including "Diego Rivera the Red." She looks like a pretty cool lady!
You will really enjoy this book, it is almost magical. Guadalupe writes in the Epilogue:
"Frida's world was always a ritual. Because of the demands of her egocentric personality she played both icon and devotee… With the purpose of offering my readers a different aspect of Frida"s way of life, the joyous one, in which we the participants, including my father Diego Rivera, we were involved, I write this book.”
And Now, About The Food!
It is perfect that I am writing this in the month of August, as that is the month that Frida"s Fiestas begins with. It is the month of Diego and Frida's marriage (August 26, 1929). She was 22 years old, he was 42. She was about 100 pounds, he was 300 pounds! Frida's mother called it "a marriage between a dove and an elephant!" Ha! Anyway, my plan is to make at least one recipe each month and share the results with you ~ how did the dish turn out, what celebrations and rituals went with it, etc. I am calling this my Frida Fiesta Photojournal.
As of this writing, I am planning something special to make for the celebration of Diego's and Frida's 80th wedding anniversary August 26th. I have to confess that I skipped ahead to the month of November for the celebration of The Day of The Dead. I am planning something special for that as well, and I wanted to see if I could pull off the recipe for Dead Man's Bread. I did, and want to share that with you first, as it was really cool!
So I am beginning my Frida Fiesta Photojournal with the Dead Man's Bread, and will give it the title of Prelude.
Frida Fiesta Photojournal: Prelude ~ Dead Man's Bread
The Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day, is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latinos (and others) living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on the 2nd of November in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on Nov 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on Nov 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. November 1st honors deceased children, and the 2nd, adults. It is one of the most festive of Mexican celebrations!
The recipe for Dead Man's Bread sounded pretty simple; the first day mixing things together and letting the dough rise overnight. The second day, forming the dough into little loaves, rising again, and then baking. Piece of cake, ah, bread.
I have not worked with a yeast based recipe in a millennium or two, and what a mess things were! The dough stuck to everything, even though I kept adding flour. I guess I just wasn"t quite prepared for such an arduous task and the clean up was huge. The second day went much better!
The bread turned out to be sort of sweet and extremely light, awesomely delicious and well worth all the effort! The tops of the bread are decorated with dough that is shaped into bones, hence the name, Dead Man"s Bread. My bones however sort of melted in to the rest of the loaf and when baked, disappeared. I will have to work on that!
Here are the photos of Frida making the bread and some of the steps it included. Yum! She will definitely be making more DMB this November!