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Day of the Dead/ Dia de los Muertes

  • m

Does anyone know if there are any stores/ restaurants in the GTA (preferably downtown) that sell the tasty treats usually eaten in Latin American countries to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Nov. 1)?

thanks,
M

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  1. Little candy and salt dough "muertos," along with sugar skulls are a real Mexican thing. Tough to find unless you can locate a Latin American curio shop. I collected them in Phoenix but have never seen 'em here. No Mexicans.

    1. you could try calling/visiting:
      --mario's latin video and grocery (bloor and palmerston)
      --tacos el asador (bloor and christies)

      1. Thought I would bump this ancient thread to check in and see if things have changed in the last four years, as Toronto has a lot of Latino fare available today that wasn't around 4 year ago (e.g. freshly made tortillas).

        Do we have a place to purchase sugar skulls? Or moulds to make them? And while we're at it, what about papel picado? Granted you can't eat it, but helps to have a gaily decorated ofrenda to place those sugar skulls on.

        13 Replies
        1. re: basileater

          As reported in 2005, it remains largely a Mexican holiday and things haven't changed all that much. Most "Latinos" in the GTA aren't Mexicans.

          1. re: Kagemusha

            I'll show my Anglican upbringing as we call it All Saints Day

          2. re: basileater

            Yes things have changed. There is a Day of the Dead festival at Harbourfront coming up on Nov 7 & 8 (the third year they have this I think.) Last year the treats were sold in the York Quay Centre.

            http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wha...

            Other Mexican food as well:
            http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wha...

            1. re: Teep

              Those look pretty sorry, Teep. No muertos, I suspect, either.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                Last year there were 3 sizes of sugar skulls which looked much better than the photos. Don't know what muertos are so even if they had it I wouldn't know.

                1. re: Teep

                  Have never seen muertos around the GTA. Though occasionally copied in S. America, these are the original style. They come in 100s of types and activities--bands, operating rooms, taxis, restos, car repair shops, dentists. Great fun.

                  http://www.mexicobyhand.com/item.jsp?...

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    Those are called calacas, except for the fancy women who may be called catrinas. Occasionally you will hear people call them esqueletos, but never muertos, in my experience.

                    1. re: basileater

                      It's a Sonoran slang term I always heard them called.

              2. re: Teep

                Thank you Teep! We will definitely be checking it out, but sadly for us it is a week too late (the holiday is November 1 and 2) and we have a houseful of homesick Mexicans who can't wait.

                I saw a couple of calacas (skeleton figures) at the independence day celebrations at Nathan Phillips last month, but they were of the cheap fridge magnet variety. I see boatloads of papel picado at every Mexican cultural event in the city so people are getting it somewhere.

                Surely if we can fill public squares with crowds consisting of 90% Mexicans for such events, if 50% of the people I hear speaking Spanish in the street pepper their speech with words like "chido," we can drum up the means to produce a few calaveras de azĂșcar! Please don't tell me I'm going to have to mould these things freehand!

                1. re: basileater

                  "Chido" is one thing; it's the relative lack of profuse Mexican profanity that's made me wonder what the question "de donde" would produce.

                2. re: Teep

                  At Pancho Mexican Bakery (Davenport just east of Dupont, on the south side) this weekend there was a poster in the window advertising this festival. It was our first trip there and we really enjoyed their baked goods. Even the smell in that bakery was something to celebrate! I have nothing to compare it to but we tried an assortment of their sweet baked good and the buns and enjoyed every mouthful.

                  1. re: dory

                    There were two stores on Bloor Street West in the Annex for years, they both sold 'figurines/day of the dead 'scenes' (they look like shadow boxes) one is/was called" Inti Crafts" right near East-West Futons (east of the Bloor Cinema on the north side. Perhaps it's called Los Indios(?) One of these stores moved upstairs across the street , they had window signage...They always had these displays at this time of year ...I'm just not sure if both are still in business...The other place for the same sort of craft items might be 'Ten Thousand Villages' (that too, is nearby on Bloor)

                    1. re: dory

                      i'll probably swing by pancho's after voting, will report back on what special treats they offer for the holiday.

                3. This year's Dead of the Day festival at Harbourfront is Nov 6-7,
                  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wha...

                  Last year there were different versions of sugar skulls, some were laughably crude, some were pretty good. All sorts of candies, some made locally and some imported. There were also thimble sized skeleton figurines all the way up to a life-size one (for decoration). And paper cutouts.

                  The food festival part
                  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wha... - sponsored by El Jacal?

                  1. skulls from pancho's at davenport & dufferin:

                     
                    8 Replies
                    1. re: smartygirl

                      This year there are fewer vendors. Foodwise, just Panchos with their egg bread, and 1 vendor selling imported sweets. The "food festival" is just 2 stalls selling tacos, pulled pork sandwiches etc.

                      1. re: Teep

                        Hmmmm. I was wondering whether to hit Brickworks or Harbourfront this weekend. Sounds like Brickworks (also closer to me) might be a better bet.
                        Did anyone attend Brickworks or Harbourfront last year? I tried to hit Brickworks late in the scheduled program (but not that late - an hour before the end?) and found it was already over.
                        http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/spec...

                        1. re: julesrules

                          Harbourfront has great entertainment, and they have some food demos this year too:
                          http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wha...

                          I went to Brickworks 2 years ago and it was a fun festival as well. I might hit up one of them this weekend. You could easily do both of them if you are willing to travel between the two spots :)

                          1. re: ylsf

                            Thanks for the info. Hopefully I can make one or the other this year :)

                            1. re: ylsf

                              Wow I just noticed Diana Kennedy is at Harbourfront.
                              Made it to Brickworks. I felt it was more of a theme day at the market than a true festival. Some good eats, a sugar skull artist with kids' activity, and an altar. Probably the first and last time I will battle Saturday morning parking at Brickworks.

                              1. re: ylsf

                                I ended up at Harbourfront both today and yesterday for different reasons but checked out some of the Day of the Dead stuff. It is different than their other festivals they have throughout the summer because it is all inside. There was only one food vendor (i.e. for a meal) and it was Rebozos. They were set up in part of the Lakeside Terrace. The line moved super slow yesterday so I didn't bother but today I tried them and it was pretty good. I hadn't had them before. They also did a cooking demo but I only cost the last portion of it. Yesterday I saw the Chocosol demo. I didn't get a chance to see any of the entertainment because of timing but today I checked out The Clock exhibit for a bit at the Powerplant and it is definitely something worthwhile watching!

                              2. re: julesrules

                                I've been to harborfront in previous years. Never knew that there was an event at the brickworks, definitely more excited to go there, even though it ends so early!

                                1. re: trane

                                  Yes the timing (I guess to coincide with the market) sucks. And be sure to get there early, based on my experience last year, where I arrived late and they seemed to have shut down an hour early. Which made me wonder how big an event it was in the first place.

                          2. Maizcal in Liberty Village has a table set and they are offering special food this week. There are pictures on their Facebook site.