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As part of our celebration of Dia de los Muertos this week, we are thrilled to feature four striking works by Catalina Delgado Trunk, one of the world’s leading papel picado artists and an internationally known authority on Dia de los Muertos and other Borderland artistic and cultural traditions and customs. Born and raised in Mexico City, Trunk’s work is included in permanent collections of institutions ranging from the Smithsonian to Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art.
As the artist statement on her website reads: “Through the medium of cut paper, I explore and reflect the rituals, traditions, myths, legends, and history of my native México, so very rich in its culture of synthesis.” This is certainly true regarding the pieces hanging in our dining room.
The two on the top both feature Trunk’s take on La Catrina, Mexico’s iconic grand dame of death. La Catrina originated back in 1910 with Jose Guadalupe Posada, considered the father of Mexican printmaking, during the days leading up to the Mexican Revolution. It was a clever caricature of the lavish, superficial trappings of the upper class, and a reminder that death makes equals of us all. Since then, this mysterious, elegantly dressed female skeleton has become synonymous with Dia de los Muertos, appearing in cartoons, on posters and in the works of some of Mexico’s greatest artists. One of the two works features Catrina alone, the other shows her dancing with a partner, as if at a high society ball.
The two matching pieces below, titled “Coming and Going” speak to the cycle of life, to the theme of entering and exiting, becoming and dying. The skeletons on bicycles riding in opposite directions are perched atop elaborate floral patterns and almost seem as if they are entwined in spider webs.
These special pieces will be hanging through the weekend – we hope you get a chance to see them in person! Thanks to Catalina’s son Sean, who lives nearby in Albany, for his helpful assistance.
Preparations are underway for a big weekend at Comal to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Our good friend and (not so) secret agent Jose Ruiz has graced our front windows with two matching “calaveras” painted with white tempura paint. Today we will be hanging four special pieces of “papel picado” by noted folk artist Catalina Delgado-Trunk on the lathe walls in the main dining room. I’ll be writing a more extensive piece about Catalina later this week – we’re honored to be showing her distinctive work at Comal.
Though the focus this week is primarily on Dia de los Muertos, our servers have been scheming some fun costumes for Halloween night – many of them are coming in costumes inspired by various Comal cocktails. Jack Satan anyone? Abuelo Sucio? Should be an interesting night…
By day, Jose runs Casa Latina, a panaderia and cafe on San Pablo – one of their specialties is Pan de Muertos, a special sweet egg bread adorned with “bones” on the top baked for Dia de los Muertos. They make countless loaves around this time every year and distribute them to schools, festivals and other gatherings. We will be sending everyone home with a piece of this very tasty Pan de Muerto on both Friday and Saturday night. We will also be adding other decorations throughout the restaurant, including marigolds and sugar skulls.
In addition to his normal Thursday night DJ slot, Jose will also be doing a special Saturday night stint that focuses on songs that nod to the theme of death in some shape or form.
We hope to see you out at Comal this week!
Meet the latest addition to our cocktail list: Quince Essential.
From a batch of “utterly esoteric” (to quote our barman Matthew) ingredients comes a cocktail that is equal parts smoke, spice, tart and sweet. Peleton mezcal is a leathery, traditionally smokey mezcal reminiscent of Alipus San Balthazar. It is infused with hoja santa and toasted, ground morita chiles in separate infusions that are then mixed 8:1 to create an herby, spicy mezcal.
From there, add Genepy, a subtle alpine herb liqueur along with equal parts lemon juice, quince syrup and bergamot (think Earl Grey tea – lemony with coriander notes) juice. It’s shaken hard and served in a small coupe garnished with a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and bergamot peel.
JP (with input from MC)