The Changing Face of Mexico

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

The Mexican Day of the Dead


  • Beimler, Rosalind Rosoff and John Greenleigh. The Days of the Dead: Los días de muertos. San Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1991.
  • Carmichael, Elizabeth and Slayer, Chloe. The Skeleton at the Feast. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1992.
  • Colle, Marie-Pierre and Rivera, Guadalupe. Fridas Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo. New York: Clarkston N. Potter, 1994.
  • Furst, Jill Leslie McKeever. The Natural History of the Soul in the Ancient Mexico. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1995.
  • López, Josefina. Food for the Dead: La Pinta (two one-act plays). Dramatic Publishers, 1996.
  • Salinas-Norman, Bobbi. Indo-Hispanic Folk Art Traditions II. Albuquerque: Piunta Publications, 1990.
  • Taylor, Barbara Howard. Mexico: Her Daily and Festival Breads. Creative Press, 1969.


  • Herz, May. Rites of the Day of the Dead. Mexico City: Videos and Paramusica. 1994.
  • Portillo, Lourdes. La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead. Mexico City: Xochil Productions, 1989.

16 de Septiembre: Mexican Independence Day


  • Lieberman, Mark. Hidalgo: Mexican Revolutionary. NY: Praeger, 1970.
  • Meyer, Michael C. and William L. Sherman. The Course of Mexican History. NY: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Rodríguez, Jaime E. ed. The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation. Los Angles: UCLA Latin American Center, 1989.

La Quinceañera Celebration


  • Cruceros y Caminos. This brief documentary depicts the Latino community of Clinton, North Carolina striving to honor their religious and cultural identities in a relatively new locale. By Shane Nye. USA, 1996. 17 minutes. In English and Spanish with subtitles.
  • Quinceañera: Princess for a Day. Another documentary in English. This film traces the quinceañera celebration broadly. It follows one young woman through her fifteenth birthday, and generalizes the ceremonies based on interviews with her and her chambelanes and family. 24 minutes.
  • Vals de la Habana Vieja (Old HavanaWaltz). The fifteenth birthday in Cuba is a markedly different ceremony from the Mexican. Increasingly seen as antiquated and quaint, the elaborateness and expense of the birthday party is declining in popular culture. This critical comedy portrays a mother who wants to throw the costly version of the event for her daughter over the objections of the father who sees it as old-fashioned, corny and outmoded. Directed by Luis Felipe Bernaza. Cuba, 1984. 84 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles.

The Equinox at Chichén Itzá


  • Aveni, Anthony F. Maya City Planning and the Calendar. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1986.
  • Castañeda, Quetzil E. In the Museum of Maya Culture: Touring Chichén Itzá. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
  • Chouinard, Jeffrey. Mouths of Stone. Durhan, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1995.
  • Coe, Michael D. The Maya. London: Thames and Hudson, 1966.
  • Friedel, David, Schele, Linda, et al. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1995.
  • Malmström, Vincent H. Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.
  • Potter, David. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, 1977.
  • Proskouriakoff, Tatiana. An Album of Maya Architecture. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.
  • Scharer, Robert J. The Ancient Maya. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.
  • Schele, Linda. A Forest of Kings. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1990.
  • Schele, Linda. The Code of Kings. New York: Scribner and Sons, 1998.

Mexican Cuisine

Mexico is the original source of many foods that today it would be hard to imagine living without. Corn (maize), beans, squash, tomatoes, avocados, amaranth, chocolate, vanilla, turkey, chili peppers, and many other food crops have their origins in Mexico. Mexico, in fact, is one of the areas with the greatest diversity of food plant species. Mexico, as a result, has one of the most varied and rich cuisines in the world, combining culinary ingredients native to Mexico with influences from Spanish, French, North American and other cultures. The full range and diversity of this cuisine is often suprising to people who have only had burritos, tacos, tamales, and nachos! There are vast numbers of cookbooks devoted to Mexican cooking, and Mexican cooks themselves have a plethora of closely guarded family recipes and special secret ingredients.

In preparing the recipes for the Changing Face of Mexico we relied on recipes from numerous sources, and consulted the cookbooks listed below:

  • Fernández, Adela. La tradicional Cocina Mexicana y sus mejores recetas/Traditional Mexican Cooking and its best recipes. (Spanish-English) México, D.F.: Panorama, 1985.
  • Rivera, Guadalupe & Colle, Maria-Pierre. Frida’s Fiestas, Recipes & reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1994.
  • Salinas-Norman, Bobbi. Indo-Hispanic Folk Art Traditions II. Albuquerque: Pinta Publications, 1990.

Where appropriate, we have included suggestions on technique and omissions or alternate ingredients. We hope you have a lot of fun exploring Mexican cooking and sampling your handiwork. ¡Buen provecho!