Guatemala, being a very religious country and like many other Catholic countries, celebrates the Day of the Dead (Día de los Difuntos) and the All Saints Day (Día de los Santos). Fiambre started out from a tradition,mostly practiced by local ethnic groups, of taking dead family members their favorite dishes to the cemeteries for the Day of the Dead. As all different families brought food to the celebrations, they became mixed, eventually mixing them together to this all-encompassing salad. This is one of the best ways to describe Guatemala as a multi-cultural country. Fiambre is referenced even back in the late 1500’s.
This dish varies from family to family, recipes traditionally passed on to younger generations. Because of this, on the Day of The Dead, it is customary to share your fiambre with other families and relatives.
Ingredients usually include numerous sausages and cold cuts, pickled baby-corn and onion, beets, pacaya flower, different types of cheese, olives, chicken, and sometimes even brussels sprouts or shrimp. Part of the tradition is to prepare the salad all together as a family, since the vegetables have to be cut into small pieces and usually takes a long time.
There are different types of Fiambre:
- Fiambre Rojo (Red Fiambre, with beets)
- Fiambre Blanco (White Fiambre, without beets)
- Fiambre Desarmado (Deconstructed Fiambre, from the department of Jalapa)
- Fiambre Verde (Green Fiambre, vegetarian and no cold cuts)
Here are some pictures of the Fiambre my family shares every year, prepared by my grandmother with the help of everybody! The preparation starts the day before.