November 1 and 2 is Day of the Dead, the Mexican tradition of remembering those who have passed by creating memorials to loved ones or celebrating with them in mind (the Catholic Faith has a similar holiday today called All Souls Day).
Our wedding caterer, Irena, owns a lovely restaurant in Baltimore called Azafrán Cafe on San Martin Drive in the northern section of the Johns Hopkins campus, and she held a Day of the Dead celebration last week. Colorful paper cut-outs were hung throughout the dining room, Mexican food was served, and in the front was an altar, where anyone could bring in pictures of loved ones along with some of their favorite things (by Tuesday, there was a little plate of biscotti, a favorite food of someone who had passed).
Any event that honors the dead always makes me think of my little brother, Pat, who was killed three and a half years ago. He was 23. I think about him every day, maybe more than I should given that it’s been some time since his death. For Day of the Dead, I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him than to make the food he ate most often: protein shakes.
As a kid, Pat was skinny, but he worked hard to build muscle as he got older. He lifted weights regularly and drank many, many protein shakes. In the morning and at night, Pat would grab a huge plastic tub of protein powder and some water and start the blender.
And he never, ever cleaned that damn blender. It drove me insane, one of many things he did that made me crazy and that I miss, very much (In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams calls this “the good stuff”, the things our loved ones did that might annoy us but once they’re not there, they become what we miss the most. Other “good stuff” for me includes Pat singing as loud as he could and the way he used to pick up me out of nowhere and toss me around).
To remember Pat on Day of the Dead/All Souls Day, I made a protein shake with one scoop of protein powder and 8 oz of water (I couldn’t squeeze down more than a few sips; I don’t know how he drank these things).
For you, Pat, I also left the blender in the sink for someone else to clean.
This article from the San Diego News Network lists some ways to celebrate Day of the Dead: you can clean the graves of your loved ones, have a meal made up of their favorite foods, or create an altar to honor them.
Irena from Azafrán also says that you can make noise (banging pots and pans for instance) to call loved ones who have passed to visit, depending on what your religious beliefs are of course.
Many brands of protein shakes are on the market, and I can’t give advice as to which are the best ones to buy.
However, instead of mixing only protein powder and water, I would recommend making your protein shakes more like fruit shakes. Toss in some yogurt, fruit, and/or juice. You’ll be adding extra nutrients to your protein shakes and they’ll be more fun to drink.