Decorate Tortillas With Symbolic Marigolds For Día De Los Muertos

When it comes to celebrating Día de los Muertos, there are many rich traditions to engage in, from culinary treasures like Pan de Muerto to artistic displays like the colorfully adorned ofrendas, or offerings, for the dead. Some of these traditions are as old as the Aztec empire, where the marigold was viewed as a symbol of the dead and used to mark the altars and graves of departed loved ones. Marigolds were also believed to attract the departed souls to the offerings. These bright, multi-petaled beauties still cover the cemeteries of Mexico, strung up in elaborate garlands and arrangements. Today we're talking about a culinary twist that allows you to incorporate these historical details directly into Día de los Muertos-inspired food.

Such is the lovely idea behind marigold tortillas, a recipe that makes delicately pressed marigolds into edible art. Though it may seem too exquisite to accomplish at home, the tortilla press is the perfect tool for you to make a pressed flower tortilla. And as marigolds have an herbaceous, almost tarragon-like flavor, you'll be making a tasty tortilla to boot.

Edible art to celebrate Día de los Muertos

First, we need to discuss the practicalities of eating marigolds. The species that was once harvested by the Aztecs is the Tagetes erecta, also called the Aztec or Mexican marigold. These are different from our standard garden cultivar, Calendula officinalis. They are both varieties of edible flowers, though, and perfectly safe to use in your tortilla press. Even so, you should talk to whomever you're buying them from to make sure they haven't been sprayed with harmful chemicals. Once you have your flowers, you'll want to use just the petals and center of each (not the heel or stem) in your food. You can also use dried marigold petals in a pinch, just know the flavor will be more intense.

As for the specific recipe, the world is your oyster. A flour or corn tortilla recipe will work here, you just need to make sure it requires a tortilla press. First, you'll do an initial press of your masa ball to make the classic tortilla shape. Then, you'll open it back up and place as many marigold petals as your heart desires. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the petal-coated side and press your tortilla again, being gentle so as not bruise the petals. From there, you'll cook the tortilla for one to two minutes on each side and use it for the perfect Día de los Muertos feast.