You’ve read my piece about All Saints Day in the Santo Domingo pueblo. This afternoon, I visited Gabe (“Yellowbird”) in the Cochiti pueblo to show him a drum I had talked about and immediately saw 20 to 30 small dishes of food arranged in front of his fireplace.
His daughter, Yvonne, explained that the Cochiti people put out the favorite foods of friends and family who have died so that their spirits can enjoy them on this day. She said that the women who cook these foods aren’t allowed to taste them as they are cooking. They must be untasted for the spirits to enjoy them. If you drop a bit of food while you’re cooking it’s because that particular spirit was impatient and couldn’t wait! 🙂
After the food has been put out for the spirits, the family can put the remainder of those foods on the table for the living to enjoy. Yvonne invited me to come and join them. I thanked her and explained that Judy and I had just eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant. She made it very clear that I had to eat something, “…even if it’s just a little bit.”
When the food was on the table, Gabe, his son Ivan, and I were called to the table. It was the most extensive spread of pueblo foods I’ve seen! More extensive than Thanksgiving dinner! It was because each dish was the favorite of 20 to 30 loved ones who had died.
I asked how it was determined which dish to make for each person. They said that you just get to know people’s favorites. Yvonne said, “For instance, our dad (Gabe) loves the bread pudding. You tend to like the bread pudding, too.”
Gabe’s daughter, Jeannette, interjected, “But in your case, we’ve all decided it’ll be the Chico Stew!”
I love these people.