Traditional prepared in Mexico for the Day of the Dead, Calabaza en Tacha or candied pumpkin is the perfect fall season treat. Pumpkin slices are slowly simmer in a caramelized dark sugar syrup.
It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a host picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Debra at Eliot’s Eats and she took us on an artistic trip for the senses with the movie Frida! In honor of Frida for the upcoming Dia de Los Muertos, and just as perfect for a Halloween treat, I made Candied Pumpkin slices.
The 2002 biopic film Frida is based on the life of the powerhouse of a woman, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954). Firda is portrayed by the amazing Salma Hayek, and Frida’s husband, Diego Rivera, is played by Alfred Molina. Frida knew a childhood of sickness and social isolation. When 18 she survived a traumatic bus accident leaving her with a broken pelvis and multiple fractures. The doctors said she would never walk again.
The real Frida
Well, defiant Frida did walk again…right into the arms of the famous painter Diego Rivera. He was at least 20 years older, a good 200 pounds heavier, and an infamous womanizer. Being ahead of her times, she accepted the proposal eyes wide open. There 25 year marriage was volatile at best but they knew great moments of passion. Both enjoyed also intense love affairs, Frida with both men and women. They truly lived torturous artist’s lives filled with strong temperaments, hard-partying nights, active communist views and artistic genius. I really enjoyed the film: it was intense, beautiful, colorful, painful and elevating.
Frida also knew one thing very well, intimately: pain. She suffered physically for most of her entire life. At the end, she was addicted to painkillers and was suicidal. She wrote: “they have given me centuries of torture and at moments I almost lost my reason. I keep on wanting to kill myself. Diego is what keeps me from it through my vain idea that he would miss me. … But never in my life have I suffered more. I will wait a while…” She was found dead one morning in bed. No autopsy was performed, the cause of death pulmonary embolism. But it is widely believed she did end her life herself.
She left a huge imprint on Mexican culture, celebrating women and Mexican folk culture. She is best known for unibrow self-portraits.
This is not a foodie movie per say but there are tons of food sittings. Debra prepared an exhaustive food list on her Frida post if curious, many are guesses. Normally I also compile a list of foods spotted in the movie of the month.
But this time the only things I wrote down were offbeat inspirations, potential food idea, the unusual: mirrored food, tango, chiles, eyebrows, communists, singing, posole, teeth instrument, Mexico, corn, tequila, big necklaces, the day of the dead, colorful clothes, pain and sufferance.
For the Day of the Dead or Halloween!
Calabaza en Tacha, or candied pumpkin, fell on my radar after catching an excerpt of a cookbook called Frida’s Fiestas. Pumpkin in syrup was one of the listed recipes. I also just happen to have 20 pounds worth of squash on my balcony after what is becoming a seasonal pilgrimage to a squash farm outside of Montreal. It is squash and pumpkin season after all and I think this candied pumpkin is a perfect grown-up Halloween treat!
Candied pumpkin is an authentic Mexican recipe prepared in the fall, particularly for the celebrations of the day of the dead. It’s so authentic that you have probably never heard of it. Outside Mexico, we only think of Tex-Mex as Mexican food. Real Mexican food is completely different and it is very regional, like for example the wonderfully unique flavors of the Yucatan Peninsula.
It is a day when family members gather and honor their dearly departed ones. Often picnics will be held day or night by the family grave in cemeteries. There is such a scene actually in the movie Frida. Day of the dead, skeletons, pumpkins, the recipe choice fit like a glove.
Click here for another Mexican/Thai Halloween inspired recipe!
Two notes one the recipe
- Cannot source piloncillo? Piloncillo is made from pure, unrefined sugar that is pressed into a cone shape of roughly 8 ounces. The good news is that there is a really easy substitute: for every 8-ounce cone use instead 1 cup brown sugar + 1 Tbsp of molasses.
- It’s not really a pumpkin one should use. Calabaza de Castilla is the ideal choice, a hard-shelled winter squash native to the Caribbean. the flesh is firmer and less watery than our pumpkins. I used a North American cousin called a red kabocha.
The candied pumpkin is a great dessert indeed! It is not the easiest dish to plate. Mine fell apart after 30 min of simmering but that is because the red kabocha has a thin edible skin. I still left it to simmer for 2 hours to reduce my syrup. Once cooled the pieces were a bit easier to handle. The taste is wonderful and surprisingly not too sweet considering how much sugar is in there. But who cares, it is a vegetable so I can eat as much as I want ha ha!
Calabaza En Tacha (Mexican Candied Pumpkin)
- 1 pumpkin or similar squash about 5 pounds
- 4 cups of water
- 4 8 oz-piloncillo cones or 4 cups brown sugar + 4 Tbsp molasses
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange zest and juice
- Remove any stem. Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the innards. Cut the pumpkin in 1.5-inch slices.
- In a large saucepan add the water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and orange zest and juice. bring to a boil.
- Carefully place the pumpkin slies in the saucepan and reduce heat to low. Cover partially and simmer for one to 2 hours, until pumpkin is tender and the liquid has reduced.
- Remove from heat and leave to cool. Serve at room temperature on its own, with pepitas, ice cream, or a bit of mlik.
We ate a true Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe a while back and the chef obviously loved Frida. There were beautiful paintings of her all over the restaurant. Great movie BTW! This is a dish I’ve heard of but have never tried. Looking at the ingredients I can tell that the eaters in this house would love it. Great recipe!
Oh sounds like a great restaurant with good taste 🙂 Do you remember the name of it MJ?
This is the perfect seasonal dessert for sure. Thank you!
I stopped updating my plugins about 3 months ago after an incident like yours.. I really hare it when I write a post o find it boof gone in a second. A tip from a fellow blogger to another: always copy and paste while you work, I learned it the hard way :). Anyway what a heartbreaking story, I’ve never seen or heard about this artist before but you made me curious. Your candied pumpkin will go to my favorite pumpkin recipes, easy and I like the use of molasses in them.
Some plugins I trust but yeah should have been more careful it was a huge update. I regularly save by draft but yeah with a restore better to coy paste from another document. Hope you enjoy the candied pumpkin when you try it.
I most definitely have to put this movie on my must-watch list!
The candied pumpkin sounds great, too!
Thanks Pat, hope you get to see this movie soon, really good…espcially with a candied pumpkin snack
I will definitely try to find this movie to watch. It sounds really interesting. The candied pumpkin sounds divine!! 🙂
Thanks Krista, hope you get to see this movie soon, really good…espcially with a candied pumpkin snack 😉
Love the movie inspiration idea! And what an intense and interesting story, I haven’t seen it but it sounds pretty intense. The candied pumpkin sounds good, too.
Elissa hope you get to see this film soon, Frida is a jewel of a film.
Love this recipe, pumpkin is so versatile and one of the best gifts of nature. From savory to sweet you can cover everything, how long do these remain preserved or do you need to use it the same day?
Thank you Prateek, yes pumpkins are amazing. I would say these last a good 10 days, if not more, if kept in the fridge. I served my week old ones to guest for a pot luck and they were perfect still.
What a perfect treat for fall!
Thanks Amy, I just have to make more, so good.
What an interesting combination of flavors. This sounds so interesting and good to know it is an authentic dish prepared to celebrate the day of the dead. While you say the dessert did not plate well…it looks pretty good to me. Sorry to hear about the WordPress plugin issue. It’s great that you have help only one phone call away! Great recap of the film as well!! Great post!
Ah thanks for the plating comment, we are our worst critic lol. Safe travels to Asia, got place in your backpack for me lol?
I love the history of Friday- she is one of my inspirations, a woman who truly was ahead of her times.
This looks really tasty.
I love candied pumpkin!
yes she was incredible indeed. Thanks Krysten!
I’ve never thought about candying a pumpkin. It sounds pretty yummy since I like so many other pumpkin dishes!
I was surprised when I found this recipe too but OMG so good!
PUMPKIN PUMPKIN! I loveeeeee stewed/roasted/pureed pumpkin in any shape or form! I can only imagine how AMAZINGGGGG your kitchen smelled with that deliciousness a BREWING!!
Very good smell indeed GiGi and delish! Baking away another pumpkin this weekend!
I love anything pumpkin, so I bet I would love this too.
Thanks Noor, oh you must try it, love at first bite 🙂
Ugh, sorry about the plugin issues. My motherboard is toast and I’m without all my blog photos while I’m waiting for the replacement to arrive. I can relate to your frustration. This candied pumpkin looks fabulous—I bet it’s darned tasty, too!!
Oh so sorry Liz, that came close to happening to a few months back. You may be able to recover everything on your old hard drive which you can use as a spare external drive after. Write to me if you want more info. It cost 8$ for a wire instead of hundreds at a pro.
Ugh Evelyne, sorry about the server issues. You are not going to believe this but I made this same dish a couple of days ago for #PumpkinWeek that is coming up. It never occurred to me to link it with this movie. Great choice. PS…I used my candied pumpkin as filling for empanadas if you are looking for a way to use up leftovers.
Thansk Wendy, yeah sometimes blog logistics can suck! Oh really that is too funny and thansk for the idea on what to do with it. I am sure a big party I am hosting this weekend will take care of leftovers but I may make this again this fall, empanadas are a great idea.
Yes, I saw the movie Frida…and really enjoyed it. The pumpkin dessert with cinnamon sounds and looks delicious Evelyne…this is very similar to how they make pumpkin desserts in Brazil…
Hope you are enjoying your week 🙂
Thanks Juliana, I think that is 2 recipes in a row I make that bring you back to Brazil, you are making me want to go lol.
Thanks for participating. Sorry about your website. Dang plugins indeed. Great looking recipe, Evelyne. Perfect for this round. Great post!
Yeah an isolated incident so much trouble, but not fun. Thanks glad you love the recipe Debra 🙂
Frida is all the rage lately. And deservedly so — amazing person. Sounds like a terrific movie. And this dish? Wonderful! Loads of flavor, perfect for the season. Thanks!
yes frida Kahlo was an incredible woman indeed! And highly recomend the recipe, it may be the fate of a 2nd squash this season at my place!
Have never thought of making candied pumpkins…bet they taste GREAT!
It was a new find for me too Angie, a wonderful find 🙂
Which plug in crashed? This is another movie I’ve not seen.
Tandy the plugin was W3 Total Cache
Oh, awesome choice – this is a favorite in our house! I’m totally craving it now (and I better not let my husband see this unless I plan on making a batch). 😉
Oh so cool that you know the recipe! I would make some if I were you lol.
Ooh I’ve eaten this at a restaurant and loved it but never made it at home! Thanks for this recipe Eve! 😀
I never saw it on a menu before,great you tasted it. It is so easy to make.
Wow this looks delish, it reminds me of Kamote cue basically a Filipino style candied sweet potatoes.
Thanks Raymund, I will have to check out that Kamote cue recipe