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Pan de Muerto: Celebration of Life and Death

During this time of year, pan de muerto is in high demand for Dia de los Muertos. The sweet offerings are eaten and put on altars for the dead. Pan de muerto is believed to nurture the dead when they come back to the living during this annual celebration.

El Pueblo Market Panaderia offers rosca de reyes, among other delicacies. | Photo by Joahnna Tool

Locally, El Pueblo Market Panaderia in Eureka is one of the few places in Humboldt making fresh pan de muerto as well as pan dulce, tamales, candy and other food products. Engelberto Tejeda is the owner of the family-owned bakery that has been around since 1996.

“The importance in making pan de muerto or la Rosca de Reyes is to maintain the tradition among Latinos,” Tejeda said. “If they like it and you do it, the tradition is maintained.”

Pan de muerto can be made differently depending on the region of Mexico and can come in different shapes like human figures, angels, sheep, hearts, liras and are typically dusted with white sugar.

A fire in February 2017 burned down Tejada’s market on Broadway in Eureka. In May 2018, they were able to relocate to their current location: 312 W. Washington St. Eureka.

“We struggled a lot because we didn’t have money, but finally we made it possible,” Tejeda said.

Tejeda described his purpose as being to serve the community. However, while running the business and preparing the food that is made in the shop, he says it’s hard to be present in the community that supports him.

“Sometimes I’m invited to events but I don’t go, I am always here because I don’t have enough employees to not be here,” Tejada said.

Pan de muerto will be ready to buy at El Pueblo Market Panaderia starting mid October.

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