To appreciate Fiambre imagine it is the middle of the eighth century. Until this time, All Saints Day was celebrated on May 13 and experts believed that rituals were deeply rooted in a similar pagan celebration, feat of the Lemures, a day when evil spirits were mollified by Earth-dwellers. Pope Gregory III consecrated a new date (Nov. 1) a Reaffirmed the significant we pressently associate with all Souls Day, A time to be with loved ones no longer with us. All Souls Day has taken root throughoutCentral and South America, with similar rituals performed coutry to country. On Nov. 1, Dia de los Santos, and Nov.2, Dia de los Muertos, families and friends come together in cemeries and graviesites to rememebr those departed.
Graves are cleaned and maintained, memorablia and flowers are placed beneath freshly touched-up tombstones, prayers are recited and relatives share memories and anecdotes about loved ones. It is a time for sharing. Fiambre symbolizes both. There are several legends told about the creation of Fiambre. Families tending gravesites would bring food- generally something their loved one enjoyed and share a meal together, reigniting the connection with the departed. And, as Guatemalans are incredibly warm and friendly people, one family shared their dishes with their neighboring family, and that family in turn shared with their neighbors.
Finally, all this dishes combined into one Fiambre! Another version: All the food brought by families to the cemetry was laid out when a big wind came up, swirling it all together into a unique dish called Fiambre! Yet another version: Since families often spent the day at the cemetry,a special dish was created to keep all of the ingredients from spoiling-Fiambre!
Fiambre is a cold cold salad. It is a typeically made with an average of 50 ingredients that include pork, chicken, shrimp, cured meat, cheese, pickeld vegetables, onions, pacaya flowers (an under the sea looking bud that grows on palm trees native to Guatemala) and a dressing made from mustard and vinegar. While there is no one single recipe for fiambre, there are several popular categories that serve as guidelines for prepartion. Fiambre rojo is made with beets while fiambre blanco is without beets. Fiambre verde is vegeterian friendly, while fiambre desermano keeps all of the ingredients separated allowing you to mix and match based on personal taste.
While many Latin American countries celebrate Dia de Todos los Santros, fiambre is unique to Guatemala. More than a food item, it is symbol of Guatemalan love and community, a melting pot of traditons and locations and methods and people. It symbloizes kiship recipes, often specific to an indivduals family, are handed down generation to generation. It brings all family members together in the kitchen, each expected to contribute to the preparation days in advance by supplying several ingredients, sliceing and picklong vegetables, grilling, meats, etc. Fiambre, is deeply rooted in the past while constantly adapting with each new generation, like Guatemala itself in may ways.