Day of the Dead Comes to Life

Taco Jane's celebrate Day of the Dead

Community is the driving force behind Taco Jane’s second annual Dia de los Muertos celebration in San Anselmo. Festivities begin October 26, when the team builds an altar in the restaurant’s driveway “to celebrate life while honoring the departed,” owner Matteo Boussina says.

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Once built, the altar rests in front of the restaurant. Boussina invites restaurant employees and friends to bring pictures of loved ones to place on the altar. Last year, “people brought their own frames and pictures, they added mementos,” he said. The altar celebrates life and honors the departed, a demonstration of remembrance. While the festival comes from Mesoamerica, you don’t need a Mexican background to celebrate. Boussina wanted to adopt it into the local culture without a layer of religion as way to poke fun at mortality. “It helps people become comfortable with the idea of death,” he says.

Unlike Hallowe’en, Day of the Dead celebrations are not limited to a single day. On November 1, a group of Aztec dancers will perform a cleansing of the spirits ceremony at Imagination Park, then parade down the avenue to the restaurant, where the altar is cleaned using copal resin or incense “to push the bad things out,” Boussina says. Inside the restaurant, flags like in the Day of the Dead movie, Coco, each tell a different story. Normally, Taco Jane’s makes Day of the Dead tamales with chicken and a special tamal with strawberries, apples and walnuts, though unfortunately they can’t this year due to the power outages. Plans were also in the works for a decorated tamale cart to hand out tamales to the fire department and all the stores on San Anselmo Ave, but this might have to wait until next year.

After the dancing, savor the restaurant’s Day of the Dead tamales or keep an eye out for the tamale cart making the rounds on San Anselmo Avenue.

Celebrating Day of the Dead at Taco Jane

Boussina, who grew up in Marin, wishes for more celebrations like this in the area. “It’s very powerful and a great way to bring families together,” he says. “It is a celebration of life but it is spiritual and magical, too.” Can I get an amen?

Chrisitina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her childrens’ schools, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.