“The one thing that is really special about Day of the Dead is that it gives people the opportunity to honor their ancestors,” says Jodi Rhoden, former owner of Short Street Cakes (Rhoden remains active in the business as a mentor to current owner and friend Olga Jimenez). “That’s something that Anglo cultures shy away from a little bit.”
Some estimate the holiday goes back 3,000 years. The two-day event, beginning on Nov. 1, is celebrated throughout Central America and Mexico, blending pre-Hispanic indigenous and Spanish-Catholic beliefs.
For the last eight years, Short Street Cakes has incorporated Day of the Dead into its business, and on Tuesday, Oct. 25, the tradition continues. Guests will have the opportunity to buy and make authentic Mexican sugar skulls, a practice that dates back to the 18th century. “They represent a relative,” explains Tomas Aguilar, manager of Short Street Cakes. “People will be able to decorate them with glitter, feathers and dye.”
As in years past, proceeds from the sale of these sugar skulls will benefit Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción — an organization that advocates for immigrant rights in Western North Caolina. “The Latino culture has already had a really strong influence in the South, and it’s growing rapidly,” says Rhoden. “I want people to take away a wider appreciation for the culture and the way it celebrates different holidays.”
Rhoden notes that many families come back each year to decorate these sugar skulls, which are made of molded sugar with egg-white binder. She says they have found the holiday to be a great way to open a dialogue about death, as well as a way to celebrate deceased relatives. “I want to remind people of the ever-present reality of death but approach it in a way that is light-hearted and beautiful,” she says. “I think it’s really beneficial for everyone.”
The eighth annual Day of the Dead fundraiser runs Tuesday, Oct. 25, through Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Short Street Cakes, 225 Haywood Road. Blank sugar skulls are $5 with $1 going to Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción. Decorated skulls are $10 with $2 going to CIMA. For more information on CIMA, visit cimawnc.org. For details on the Day of the Dead fundraiser, visit shortstreetcakes.com.
Library chili cook-off
The Friends of the Mountain Branch Library will host the group’s third annual chili cook-off on Saturday, Oct. 29. Prizes will be awarded to the top three chilis chosen by those who attend. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, a costume parade and a cooking event for children during the event.
The cook-off runs noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Temple of Jesus Fellowship Hall, 6750 U.S. 64/74A, Lake Lure. Entry is $5 for those competing. Guests can sample all competing chilis for $5, as well as purchase a full-size bowl of chili for the same price. Proceeds benefit The Friends of Mountains Branch Library.
Vortex Doughnuts celebrates two years
Vortex Doughnuts will host its two-year anniversary celebration on Thursday, Oct. 27. The shop will offer 365 free doughnuts, including a cinnamon-sugar yeast doughnut topped with a swirl of French Broad dark chocolate.
The celebration runs 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at Vortex Doughnuts, 32 Banks Ave. The event is free and open to the public. Free doughnuts will be available while supplies last. For details, visit vortexdoughnuts.com.
Howl-o-ween Future Readings at Lex 18
Lex 18 will host Turkish coffee readings performed by clairvoyant Salma Melchizedek Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29. Seating will be at a private table shrouded by velvet drapes. Turkish coffee will be brewed for each guest, and its grounds will be read in a process known as tasseography. The event benefits Brother Wolf Animal Rescue with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the nonprofit.
Readings takes place 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29, at Lex 18, 18 N. Lexington Ave. Tickets cost $40 per person. Reservations can be made on the day of the readings from 1-5 p.m. by calling 575-9494. Advanced reservations can be made at brownpapertickets.com. Ten slots are available each evening. For more details, visit lex18avl.com.
Truckload Sale at French Broad Food Co-op
The French Broad Food Co-op is bringing back the buying club with a truckload sale. A promotional page on the co-op’s website says shoppers can expect “crazy low prices on cases of your favorite foods.”
The sale runs 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the French Broad Food Co-op, 76 Biltmore Ave. For details, visit frenchbroadfood.coop.