Dead Bread

The spirits aren't the only ones to enjoy pan de muerto

While Halloween is all about running from the supernatural and stuffing ourselves with candy corn, Dia de Los Muertos–or Day of the Dead–revels in celebrating ghostly spirits with food and mariachi.

For the two-day holiday (November 1 and 2), rounds of pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead) are laid on decorative altars to guide spirits home. The traditional bread is slightly sweet with hints of anise, and often dusted with sugar or covered in sesame seeds. Sometimes it's shaped like bones, skulls, angels or animals.

You'll find pan de muerto at neighborhood panaderias all over L.A. This year, the 60-year-old El Gallo Bakery has traditional round and dog shapes, or get a large doll shape by request at Venice Bakery (10943 Venice Blvd.; 310-839-3478).

Freshly baked at 4 and 7 a.m., the pan de muerto from La Favorita (2305 E. 4th St.; 323-265-4445) disappears quickly, so you must order it ahead of time. La Morenita supplies the bread for Olvera Street's Day of the Dead celebrations.

Pan de muerto is useful after the spirits are put to rest, too. Chef John England uses day-old bread for Rosa Mexicano's seasonal panzanella salad made with pumpkin and mushrooms. Find the dish on the Day of the Dead menu through November 22, or make it with leftover bread at home (click here for the recipe).