This holiday needs more food traditions for us Norto Americanos who have borrowed the holiday. My altar is up but I feel the need to serve a relevant meal, maybe invite friends over, like for all our other holidays. But I'm ignorant of what a good menu might be. Traditionally, you place food items on the home altar that were significant to the departed and I get that part. Hence, my miniature box of chocolate cherries for my Mother. But as far as I know about Mexican traditions, the food is whatever any family makes for themselves and relatives and/or carry with them to the cemetary for picnicing on the graves. I may need to start a personal tradition mixing cultures. Possibly pumpkin soup, unleavened flat bread, dessert with dark bitter chocolate cream pie. Oops, check this out and click on the really cool video about Traditions for alot more info about what Mexicans take to the altars and eat for DOTD:
Sugar skulls, actually a non-food item that is commonly found on DOTD alters, while made from nothing but sugar and frosting, aren't really meant to be edible. It's an interesting contrast though: the sweetest thing we know (sugar) molded to evoke the most bitter (death). I recently read that a person is never fully satisfied with a meal until all of the essential tastes have been registered by the taste buds: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, astringent. One might say the same about life, and many have, especially the Buddhists. But I think the indigenous traditions understand this also. Hence the many pagan observances that recognize that life is sweetest when juxtaposed with death. That's what draws me to this holiday. It forces us to look at the facts straight on and eat, drink and make merry over them.
Same site as above has a nice history of the celebration and does give a recipe for Pan de Muerto http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dead/food/ although I think I'm inspired to make a trip to a Mexican bakery before I try it out at home.