Let me start this party off right by saying that I am a very proud Mexican-American woman – always have been, always will be. Listening to my grandfather speak Spanish and watching my grandmother make tortillas filled me with so much joy, and to this day the image helps me on rough days. That being said, Cinco de Mayo has always posed an issue for me. It is in, its simplest terms, just not that Mexican. While the holiday does celebrate a real event in Mexico’s history, Americans celebrate Cinco de Drinko much more than our buddies down south. While Mexican schools are closed on May 5 for observance of “The Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla,” it is not considered a national holiday anymore.
The holiday celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, not our country’s independence as many think. French forces were occupying Mexico after the Mexican-American War, and Mexicans wanted them out. While heinously outnumbered and lacking the war technologies the French army had, the Mexican army was able to defeat their foes on May 5, 1862. Again, this is NOT Mexican Independence Day; that is celebrated on September 16.
So let's not pretend that this day is about anything other than having some chips, “guac”, and more than a couple of margaritas. My fellow Mexican-Americans, this year let's embrace the bastardized holiday; rather than reminding yet another gringo that this is not our Fourth of July, let's take a deep, calming breath and be happy that we get another day to celebrate the countries we love so much.
Now that all of that is out of the way, we can get to the really good stuff: the food. I put together a menu that blends our two cultures, while remembering that this holiday is largely an excuse to drink in the slow time between St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day.
Jalapeno Margaritas - If you want something a little sweet that packs as much punch as the Mexican army, look no further than this dangerously drinkable cocktail. Fun fact: These are the "spicy margaritas" made famous by Sur Lounge in LA. If you have ever seen Bravo's hit show Vanderpump Rules, you have definitely seen these signature drinks being served.
Recipe adapted from Love & Lemons
3 cups good tequila…or bad tequila, we don’t judge
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 c Grand Marnier
1 ½ c fresh lime juice
1 c agave syrup
Lime, salt, and jalapenos for garnish, if that’s your style
Mix the jalapeno and tequila. Let it sit for at least a few hours at room temperature, or up to a day if you have the time. Strain tequila through a fine sieve. Keep the jalapenos for yourself or your more daring friends. Mix all ingredients other than the tequila. Add the tequila to the batch half a cup a time. This stuff can get spicy, and you can always use some regular tequila if your guests are wimps. Once you get the taste exactly how you want, serve over ice or blend with ice.
BLT Tostada - Few things scream "Mexican-American hybrid" quite like the BLT tostada; a little Californian, a touch Mexican, but most importantly, just good eats. When making them for myself, I make a basic salad mix (lettuce, red onion, carrot, and whatever else I have in the fridge) and sub that for the plain lettuce. But you do you, friends.
Recipe adapted from My Brother’s Salsa website
2 avocadoes, diced
½ # bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup tomato-based salsa or pico de gallo
1 cup sour cream
1 cup iceberg or Bibb lettuce, shredded
4 tostada shells
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Cilantro and cheddar cheese to garnish
Mix half of the salsa with the cubed avocado and the other half with the sour cream. To assemble, spread sour cream mixture over the shell, top with lettuce, bacon, tomato, avocado, and garnishes. It’s really that simple.
Fruity Guacamole – Guacamole and avocados are probably the foods I eat the most of, so trust me when I say this is a nice take on the traditional guacamole. The sweetness in this balances and complements the spice from the margaritas very well. Chef Michael Simon as a version with blue cheese and bacon that you are certainly welcome to try, but I think my new favorite take on the classic is adding whatever fresh, tropical fruits I can find.
3 avocados, diced
½ red onion (white onion will work in a pinch), minced
1 small jalapeno (you can use some of the discarded one from the tequila), minced
1 Tbsp lime juice (to help stave off oxidation)
3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 cup of diced pineapple or mango
If you like chunky guacamole, simply mix everything and let it sit for about 15 minutes for the flavors to develop. If you like it a little smoother, put avocado, onion, jalapeno, and lime juice in first. Mush to your desired thickness, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Churro Doughnuts - No matter your views on the holiday, you just can't do wrong with fried dough. This particular delight gets a huge flavor boost from brown butter and churro spices. Try them baked if you have a donut pan (which any household worth its salt should have). You could also just make baked or fried doughnut holes with the same recipe. Chris from Shared Appetite has a mouth-watering recipe and it is very well-written, so I am simply linking to their site.
What are your favorite Cinco de Mayo classics? Comment below or shoot us a message on any of our social media accounts. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #FeedYourCuriosity, you just may see your delicious pics on our feed.