Feasts – Mexico 2 of 3 – BBC Culture Documentary , recorded 17.09.2011
Series in which food writer and presenter Stefan Gates immerses himself in some of the most extraordinary feasts and festivals on earth. By joining ordinary people in these strange and wonderful distillations of their culture and beliefs, he hopes to gain a revelatory insight into how the world thinks and feels.
Stefan goes on a wild emotional and spiritual rollercoaster ride, starting with a teenage girl’s bizarre coming-of-age ceremony and ending with the Day of the Dead, a cacophonous cross-cultural festival of the senses during which Mexicans truly believe that their loved ones come back from the dead for three days every year to spend the day with them.
In Oaxaca, he is dressed up as a dead woman and made to dance like a lunatic at the head of a procession as it makes its way through town. He is turned into an emotional wreck at the moment the dead return, bursting into tears as Dias de los Muertos makes him experience grief and loss for the first time.
But then in the next breath, the family Stefan is living with teach him to celebrate and laugh at death. They turn his views on their head, allowing him to embrace and conquer his fear of death through an extraordinary sensual onslaught of food, flowers, songs and smells. The sight of the graveyards overflowing with flowers and mescal-drinking revellers is a truly life-changing experience.