Understanding the food-filled altars of Día de los Muertos
You may not have noticed, but the elaborate Día de los Muertos altars that pop up this time of year are full of really good-looking (and presumably good-tasting) food. They’re loaded with freshly baked pan de muerto (an anise-and-cinnamon-spiced sweet bread baked only at this time of the year—and exclusively for this purpose), platters brimming with things like dark mole made from scratch, and piles of ripe fruit. Not to mention unopened bottles of the beers, wines, and spirits that deceased honorees liked to drink when they were alive.
Fruit, aromatic pan de muerto (sweet, spongy, egg bread baked with cinnamon, anise, and citrus zest), and nicuatole (a milk custard gelatinized with toasted corn powder) are essential altar treats.