Fighting Ferns with Raw Fish--Years ago, a friend taught me a new word for those ubiquitous, family-oriented chain restaurants that proliferate near freeway exits. You know the type. Places that are decorated by The Big Metal Turn-of-the-Century Reproduction Sign Company. Places that pour foot-high, neon cocktails with embarrassing names like the "Chattanooga Chocolate Twister." Places where the food is reassuringly bland, Americanized and uncomplicated. She called these places "fern bars."
Oct. 31 is a night of youthful celebration. In the United States, children scour their neighborhoods for mini-candy bars and bubble gum in silly costumes, and adults take a nostalgic journey into the world of make believe. In Mexico, the country celebrates the life of youth already departed during Young Souls Day—day one of Dìa de los Muertos, held the first week in November each year.
You don’t have to make it yourself to enjoy traditional Dìa de los Muertos foods. Here’s a sampling of local restaurants and bakeries where you can find two other traditional foods: pan de muerto and mole (pronounced mole-ay).