We have just returned from a fun night out with our friends, Baranna and Eric. They are in love, and the relationship is new, and they are so much fun to be around. Baranna is in the field of semantics and travels around the world presenting her research. Eric is in the tech industry. Both are interesting, intelligent people, lively and fun. We had a great time.
We had arranged to meet at La Colaca Comelona at 7:30, but John and I arrived a little early and enjoyed a cocktail and a good laugh together before they arrived.
I tried something new (for me), called a Sabrina. It consisted of organic Vida Mezcal, fresh blackberries, agave nectar and raspberry vodka. Tasted good, but was a little sweet for my taste. I couldn’t finish it.
So, what is this La Colaca thing about? A Colaca is a female skeleton, whose bones creak when she walks. The Comelona part is food. This woman skeleton of Aztec ancestry haunts the place and loves good food. So do we! La Colaca is filled with skeletons of every possible description.
Tracing their origins from Aztec imagery, calacas are frequently shown with marigold flowers and foliage. As with other aspects of the Day of the Dead festival, calacas are generally depicted as joyous rather than mournful figures. They are often shown wearing festive clothing, dancing, and playing musical instruments to indicate a happy afterlife. This draws on the Mexican belief that no dead soul likes to be thought of sadly, and that death should be a joyous occasion. This goes back to Aztec beliefs, one of the few traditions to remain after the Spanish conquest.
Calacas used in the festival include carved skull masks worn by revelers, small figures made out of carved wood or fired clay, and sweet treats in the form of skulls or skeletons. Calacas are sometimes made of wood, stone, or even candy.
A popular phrase among Mexicans and those Latinos that personally know some is “se lo (la) llevó la calaca” after someone has died, literally meaning “the calaca took him (her)” or “death took him (her)”.
In Guatemala, “calaca” is understood as “death”. The figure of a bare skeleton represents death and implies fear of death. Thus, it is not normally utilized as a joyful image.
La Colaca Comelona does not serve typical Mexican food that is found at most American Mexican restaurants. This is authentic and gourmet. Fabulous food, really.
Eric had the Serape, which is pastor, carne asada and bacon, all mixed and grilled with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and melted cheese. It was served wtih homemade tortillas. he loved it. Said the flavors were quite distinct, one from the other.
Baranna ordered the Corundas, which are masa dumplings wrapped in chard leaves and served wtih pork tenderloin medallions in a nice tomato sauce with sour cream, pintos and cotija cheeese. She loved her food. Raved about it, in fact.
John and I both ordered the Tostada de Verduras, a dish that I make frequently at home. We both love it. It is a layer or pinto beans, topped wtih shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, chopped tomatoes, red onion, sour cream and coitja cheese piled high on a crunchy tortilla. Man! Is it ever good!
The dinner conversation was lively. The guys were seated across from the women. John and Baranna spent a lot of time talking about his play. They were both in attendance at the reading the other night. I was unable to make it. Eric and I talked about music and books and travel. All kids of interesting things. We each talked about the bands that we were in. He was a guitarist. I was a keyboard player and vocalist. Fun to rehash all of that.
John has a bit of a sweet tooth, so we ordered Capirotada for the table. And we drank cups of strong black coffee as we all chatted.
The Capirotada is a type of Mexican bread pudding that contains bread, raw brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. It is sprinkled with cotija cheese. Delicious!
This guy stood guard as we ate:
There is nothing quite as pleasant as a nice out with good friends. All of the pieces just seemed to fit into place. This is a couple we really enjoy spending time with. We’re already planning our next get-together.
So there you have it. Our night at La Calaca Comelona, Portland, Oregon….