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The Bend Magazine

Honoring the Dead with Marigolds

By: Vianney Rodriguez  Photos by: Jason Page  Styling: Terrie Moore

Mexico has its own species of marigold, known as Cempasuchil, and its importance to the Mexican culture dates back to pre-Hispanic times. Marigolds are especially important in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Cempasuchil is called the flower of the muertos, or dead, and must be present in Día de los Muertos altars and ofrendas (or offerings). It’s believed that marigold’s pungent scent and vibrant color help lead the spirits of the dead back to Earth to visit their loved ones. Typically, marigold blossoms and petals are placed around the altar and also on the ground leading up to the altar, as if to form a path up to it.

I am lovingly drawn to the aroma of marigolds – they remind me of my Abuelita Cuca, who always smelled of fresh-picked flowers and always had a smile for everyone. My cocktail passion stems from my abuelita, who adored sipping a cocktail after a long day in the kitchen. She was the epitome of cool.

Mi querida Abuelita Cuca has left  this earth, but has left  mi corazon etched with beautiful memories of our time in the kitchen together. I want to share with you two recipes that honor mi Abuelita Cuca...infused with marigolds.


Marigold Pineapple Margaritas

Serves 20

PREP TIME: 10 minutes || COOK TIME: 5 minutes || TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes

Marigold Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup dried marigold leaves


In a saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, remove saucepan from heat, add dried marigolds, allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and let cool. Spread strained marigold leaves on a baking sheet to make garnish.

Note: Marigold Simple Syrup will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator if well-sealed.

For Candied Marigolds


Spread strained marigold leaves on a baking sheet to make garnish. Place strained marigolds in a 200-degree oven. Bake for an hour, stirring occasionally to allow marigolds to dry out. Use candied marigolds to garnish margaritas.

For Marigold Pineapple Margaritas


3 quarts pineapple juice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Marigold Simple Syrup, recipe above
4 cups Tequila Blanco, such as Tequila Cazadores Blanco

For Garnish: lime wedges, smoked salt, candied marigold leaves, pineapple wedges


In a large pitcher or cazuela, combine pineapple juice, lime juice, marigold simple syrup and Tequila. Stir to combine well. Run a lime around rim of glass, and dip half glass into smoked salt and other half into candied marigold leaves. Fill glasses with ice and serve margaritas garnished with pineapple wedges. 

Creamy Marigold Baked Rice

Serves 6

PREP TIME: 5 minutes || COOK TIME: 41 minutes || TOTAL TIME : 46 minutes

1 cup white rice, such as Mahatma 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1/4 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup dried marigold leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime


For rice: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in 1 cup rice. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

To a pan over medium-high heat, add butter. Sauté onion until light and translucent, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in dried marigolds and heavy cream. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Stir together the rice and marigold cream sauce. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with fresh lime juice and serve warm. 

Contact: | @sweetlifebake