Today is Ash Wednesday, and so begins Lent. Lent is the 40-day (excluding Sundays) season that precedes Easter. On Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent, most people fast and abstain from eating meat.
The most popular food we eat during Lent is capirotada. Capirotada is a Mexican bread pudding made with cinnamon, piloncillo, cloves, raisins, bread, and cheese. I can smell and taste the sweet warm melted cheese as I type this. Yes, you read it right…cheese. The combination of these ingredients is sure to awaken your taste buds.
While working in our family’s neighborhood grocery store (Soza’s Grocery) friends and neighbors would share their capirotada dish. I remember some were quite interesting with the addition of peanuts, coconut, bananas, and sprinkles.
I politely tried their recipe as they stood there waiting for my reaction. I couldn’t possibly tell them I didn’t like it, besides that, my mother would have killed me if I uttered an unkind word to one of our neighbors or customers. Instead I just stood there and thanked them. We are such creatures of habit, and any capirotada that didn’t taste like our recipe just didn’t cut it for me.
Both my mom and grandma used the most basic of ingredients to make this old world and traditional dish.
Many Mexican and Mexican-American families view this dish as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on the cross. The ingredients in this recipe carry a rich and symbolic representation.
The bread is for the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the cloves are the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks symbolize the wooden cross, and the melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud.
This is our heavenly family recipe. Try very hard not to eat the entire dish of capirotada at one sitting. Sabroso!
Photography by Jeanine Thurston