Our family is based is Aransas Pass, Texas where our home is located. Over the years of moving we have not been fortunate to reside in areas where Dia de Los Muertos is widely celebrated. Luckily we are currently living in Edinburg, Texas which is located a mere 30 minutes from the border of Mexico. I was overjoyed to find our local museum, The Museum of South Texas History dedicating an entire day to raise awareness for the local youth of a celebration geared toward learning a bit into their heritage. Altar Exhibits, Children’s Activities, Guest Speakers, Book signing, Plays, Performances, Artists, Music and food were featured. The event was a huge success. People arrived eager to learn of a Mexican tradition where the lives of the departed are celebrated in joyous union with family and friends. We enjoyed a Obra (play) of The Life and Times of Juanito Gonzalez, where Juan returns from death to help the children better understand this tradition. The tradition is not to be feared, looked upon as morbid or disrespectful. Every life here on earth will soon pass and we should celebrate death as it is the natural path of life. My girls’ clearly enjoyed his presentation as he engaged the children with laughter, music and humor. Later we enjoyed Dance perfromances from local dance groups wearing traditional Oaxacan costumes.
From the Museum
A Glossary for Dia de los Muertos
Altar – A display honoring departed love one, built in homes throughout Mexico each year during Day of the Dead celebrations. Offerings are placed on the altars.
La Noche de Duelo – The Night of Mourning, the beginning of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. On this night, friends and relatives bring food, flowers, and decorations to the cemetery in a candlelight procession.
Los Angelitos – Children who have died, remembered on All Saints’ Day Nov. 1st
Ofrenda – Offerings placed on the altar, sometimes representing the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Earth is represented by food placed at the altar; air is symbolized by papel picado, elaborate paper cutouts that flutter on the breeze. fire is represented in scented candles that decorate the altar, and water is often left in a bowl. Other offerings include personal mementos of the deceased.
This post is the perfect example of why I as a mother believe my children would greatly benefit from experienicng Dia de Los Muertos. In this post we honor my beloved Tio Miguel Angel. My Uncle was a great man who loved his family, believed that we should love our country and be the shoulder to lean on in troubled times. The sibling bond between my Tio and his sister, has carried her through troubling and happy years in her life. I love him with a carino that is not easily described, you see I never met him as he died when my mom was only 18. My uncle enlisted in the Army and was shipped off to Vietnam. My mother made sure to keep his memory alive within our family. Ever since I can remember we have heard stories about his life, his adventures, his trouble making and his love of family. I grew up knowing him completely without ever thinking twice that he had left us. My most intimate look into his life came the day after we had return from visiting my grandmother. At this time my husband was deployed for the second time to Iraq and I was staying with my mom with my two small girls. She approached me to askif I could do her a favor. Of course I agreed, looking for anything to keep my mind occupied at the time. She handed me a shoe box filled to the brim with letters, letters from my Tio. She wanted me to sort them for her, by date. I worked on this project for almost two weeks, reading each letter twice. I read letters from when he was at boot camp, as he prepared to ship off and while he was in Vietnam. I placed each letter in a protective sleeve by date and placed them in a binder. So many great letters home expressing love, questions about the family and requests. He would request items from home that he missed. I laughed out loud when I read he wanted jalapenos, he missed jalapenos with his food. I quickly asked my mom about his request. She explained that each week my grandfather would make a trip to the post office to mail him off a care pkg, filled with all his favorite things, never forgetting the jalapenos. He enjoyed stuffed jalapenos of tuna. I never hearing of such a treat, searchedthem on the Internet and could only find this brand (pictured below). We lost my Tio in Vietnam, but the relationship I continue to carry in my heart will be gladly shared with my girls. Today I offer you jalapenos stuffed with tuna, in honor of my Tio Miguel Angel. I honor him for my his relationship with my mom, his courage to serve his country and his spirit, for I know his spirit was with my hubby on his service of duty. Enjoy! Sweet Life
Pickled jalapenos stuffed with a mix of tuna, citrus dressing and roasted bell peppers not for the faint of heart. These babies do have heat, but the citrus adds such a geat kick. Serve alone of as a side to a great steak.
Jalapenos stuffed with Tuna and Oregano Citrus Dressing
1 (15oz) can of whole jalapeno peppers
1 (5oz) can of tuna , packed in water, drained
1 red bell pepper
1/4 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano (crushed)
garnish- cilantro and pickled carrots from jalapeno can
Roast the red bell pepper under the broiler until charred on all sides, remove from oven and cover with kitchen towel for about 5 minutes. This will help the skin to be easily removed. While waiting for the bell pepper
Combine zest, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk and taste for seasoning. In another small bowl place well drained tuna and add your dressing tablespoon by tablespoon. You want
the tuna to be coated in the dressing , but not too moist as the jalapenos are pickled. Peel the blackened skin off the red bell pepper, remove the seeds and dice. I used only half of the pepper as mine was HUGE, any
leftovers can be added to your eggs the next day or combined into a quick quesadilla. Mix the peppers into your tuna mix, set aside. Cut with a sharp knife an oval on the top of the jalapeno. Remove the seeds and
fill with your tuna mix. Serve garnished with the pickled carrots and cilantro. Goes well with a dollop of sour cream over a bed of lettuce or alongside a great steak.
It’s great that you’re teaching your girls your culture’s traditions. It must have been fascinating reading all of your uncles letters, hopefully reassuring for you at the time as well 🙂
I loved your bacon wrapped jalapenos and these sound awesome too, so you can bet I’ll be making them this weekend!
denise @ quickies on the dinner table says
You really do have an amazing family, and your uncle sounds like a wonderful man!
I love the very idea of spicy tuna stuffed jalapenos – the citrus dressing is a nice touch!
The necklace is gorgeous, you lucky girl!!
A Canadian Foodie says
What a lovely story… I am a pacifist from waaaaay back… yet I have such undying respect for those who serve. Hate War.
Lovely heartfelt and thoughful read.
Bonnie, what a special story. Thanks for sharing. What a special person your Tio Miguel Angel was. We love jalapenos around here, too. I’ve stuffed them with both shrimp and crab, but never with tuna. This is now on my to-try list.
What a lovely tribute to your uncle. He sounds like he was an amazing man, and I’m happy to see that your family strives to keep his memory alive. These jalepenos look and sound delicious. Thank you for sharing…and for your continually encouraging words on my own blog. You have a beautiful soul!
beautiful story as always, value of family is most treasured it seems after one has departed and the celebration is a wonderful way to remember and honor – not too sure of the tuna with jalapeño, must be one of those taste ya just gotta try….
This was such a great post. I learned so much. I think I might be to faint of heart to try the jalopenos, but they are really tasty looking.
That is such an interesting musieum and tradition!
A lovely dish!
Happy Halloween or Day Of The Dead!
wow cool post love learning about your culture in India on a dead persons birthday they make their fav meal in rememberance cool idea
Lori Lynn @ Taste With The Eyes says
Vianney – whoa! this is one crazy good appetizer. And with a steak, I bet there are a lot of men who would love this!
On a serious note, thank you, your husband and your tio for your service. Families our of heros are heros in their own right.
And I am so sorry I haven’t visited in a month, that Project Food Blog sure has kept us busy. Thanks for your support.
I read your previous posts and looked at the awesome scary treats, you rock – so creative, awesome! Happy Dia de Los Muertos!
What a sweet story! That is so wonderful how your Mom has kept his memory alive. When I lived in Tucson Day of the Dead was a big deal – but here in NY not so much. Never heard of this dish before either – it looks delicious!
I was so touched by your story; your uncle was such a fine man and what a great loss for your mom;however, she managed to make him alive to you and you are now passing on the memory of him to us, the readers. Love his favorite jalapeños, I have never seen them stuffed in tuna and I would love to try it! I too missed these peppers while I was far from Texas.
What a great post, I loved the stories and the education. I love the idea of having a day to celebrate departed loved ones. What a wonderful post, just really enjoyed it, of course I’ll be making the jalapenos stuffed with tuna. I can hear my hubby already, why didn’t you do this sooner?
That is something I would never think of putting together.But now I am gonna have to try it. Thank you Bonnie for wonderful story and insight.
Thanks for sharing your story Bonnie! It’s very sweet. Wars are not necessary at all…
I love your jalapenos version. It looks great with tuna and the dressing sounds wonderful. What a great combo:)
Marcella and Izzy are looking at me why are you crying mommy? Great post Big Sis!!!!! LOVE YOU TIO MIGUEL ANGEL
God damn! Excuse my language, but I was just too striken by your creativity. Tuna in jalapeno!! And the dressing sounds awesome.
This was such a thoughtful, sweet post dedicated to your uncle. I love that he wanted jalapenos most! A man after my own stomach!
Stuffed Jalapeños are THEEEEE best thing ever 😀 i could live on that and sopa de pasta lol.
5 Star Foodie says
Thank you for sharing this story and what a great tribute to your uncle! The jalapenos with tuna sound like a wonderful appetizer, such a delicious combination of flavors especially with the dressing.
I love jalapeños!! Hot, hot, hot 🙂
Have a great day!
Hey Bonnie, this is such a sweet story. I can understand your love for your uncle after reading about him in the midst of a chore for your Mom. Ugh, I’ve never understood why the Vietnam war ever happened. Makes me mad thinking about it…
Anyway, I can see why your Tio Miguel Angel loved this treat. I love tuna and it sounds like it would be extra wonderful with a salty, spicy pickled jalapeno. Yum. I might try this for my Cauldron Boy. I bet he would love it, since he loves jalapenos and tuna;)
p.s. Thanks so much, Bonnie, for your sweet comment on my last post. It means a lot coming from a part vegetarian omnivore (smile)…