It’s been a long-time Mexican tradition that the Day of the Dead is a time of celebration and of remembering loved ones who’ve passed away.
This year, Bracero Cocina de Raiz will celebrate the Day of the Dead -- or Dia de los Muertos -- on Monday, Nov. 2. The restaurant, located in Little Italy, will be celebrating the lives of the 32 Bracero workers who were involved in “The Catastrophe” at Chualar, California, in the 1960s.
Luis Pena, the restaurant’s director and co-owner, said the eatery will have an altar to commemorate the Day of the Dead -- specifically to remember the 32 Braceros who were killed in a bus crash in the Salinas Valley in 1963.
Starting in 1942, the Bracero program allowed over 4 million Mexican farm laborers to come to the United States to work the fields and make them productive.
The crash took place when a north-bound Southern Pacific train at the Thomas Ranch Road and Highway 101 railroad crossing collided with a vehicle transporting these skilled laborers who worked on America’s dams, railways and roadways and helped develop many of the country’s agricultural lands.
In honor of those who died, the restaurant will serve a four-course dinner for $45. The cost will be $65 for those who opt for beverage pairings.
Chefs Javier Plascencia and Claudette Wilkins will be in charge of the menu. There will be seatings at both 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
In addition, Pena said that Isidro Tovar -- one of the Braceros who survived the crash -- will be present at Bracero Cocina de Raiz with his family.
During the Day of the Dead dinner, Pena explained that the evening’s first course will include duck legs cured in a blend of herbs and spices then confit’d. This will be served with an Oaxaca style red mole sweetened with black plantains and garnished with a sweet and savory Persimmon chutney, plantain chips and citrus laced greens.
The second course is a traditional Yucatan style slow roasted pork in an achiote marinade, which will be paired with house-made sope with a black bean spread.
The third course will include roasted tomatillo and morita salsa that will be served in a purse that will be opened table-side by the evening’s servers. It will include macienda bolita corn and mixed rancho gordo beans.
The fourth and final course will be Pan De Muerto.
The meal will also include complimentary atole de maiz azul -- a warm beverage made from sweetened blue corn maize that is served in traditional Oaxaca Atole bowls.
“This will be an annual event for us,” Pena shares. “We wanted to do something that represents the Bracero culture and heritage ... Bracero will be honoring the 32 lives lost with a one-of-a-kind dining experience.”
For more information about the event or to make reservations, contact the restaurant at bracerococina.com or (619) 756-7864.