On the way home from school Miss M reminded me that Cinco de Mayo is coming. She was hoping it was soon because she had a hankering for some Mexican cuisine. I explained to her that Cinco de Mayo meant Fifth of May.
We talked about how it was a national holiday in Mexico and commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. During this battle a small and poorly armed force defeated the French invasion of a professional army led by Napoleon III. The Mexican troops tallied 4,500 while the French army about 8,000. In this battle, that went on for four hours victory by the small Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaraoza was found. It is a victory that is remembered every year with the celebration known as Cinco de Mayo.
Ironically, Cinco de Mayo is larger in celebration in the United States than in Mexico. Perhaps it’s because General Ignacio Zaragosa was born in Texas (though, then, it was still part of Mexico)? More likely it is because Chicano activists in the 1960s and 1970s, who identified with the Mexican Indian and mestizo soldiers’ triumph over European conquest attempts popularized it in the US.
Many people refer to Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day. It is not, that day was 50 years earlier on September 16, 1810.
The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo Event, hosting more than 600,000 folks in their celebration with food and music each year is the Festival de Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles.
Did you know:
- Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world
- Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and where the Mexican Hat Dance, sombrero and mariachi music originated.
- Mexico’s capital, Mexico City (one of the world’s largest cities) is sinking. Some of its buildings are sinking by as much as 4 to 12 inches a year. The city was once an Aztec capital on an island surrounded by a shallow lake. When the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes captured the city, he drained the lake. So Mexico City rests on soft land that continues to sink.
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration with festivals and fiestas that often feature parades with marchers dressed as Mexican and French generals followed by soldiers and the streets are lined with women wearing colorful skirts and flower hate representing the women who traveled with the army to cook and care for the troops. By mid-afternoon the battle is reenacted with cannons and rifles and lots of shouting. Then, come night fall those playing the French and Mexican Generals meet face-to-face for a sword battle. Of course, we already know how the battle ends.
What would a fiesta be without games, dancing, mariachi music, food and decorations It’s all included with pinatas for the children and a conclusion of fireworks.
I remember long ago when Zac was in Kindergarten he claimed to be Mexican so he could take part in the events of Cinco de Mayo. These days we just celebrate it because we are aware of the cultural diversity in our community. It’s a time for food, family and fun.
Since then we celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home. It’s a time to create quality time together. You can too. If you need some inspiration Coca Cola has a great site that offers Cinco de Mayo activities and recipes!
Or try something more traditional like Food Network’s Celebrity Chef Ingrid Hoffman’s Turkey Nachos:
Makes 4 servings
pico de gallo:
4 small ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small white onion, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground lean turkey breast
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1∕8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
4 8- to 10-inch whole-wheat or whole-grain tortillas, each cut into 6 wedges
1 8-ounce bag shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup ripe black olives, sliced
1 Hass avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and diced
low-fat sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt (optional)
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped (½ cup)
1. To make the pico de gallo, combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, and oil together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. For the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and the chili power, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring often, breaking up the turkey with the side of a spoon, until the turkey begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the turkey is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil.
4. Spread the tortilla wedges on the baking sheets and spray with the nonstick spray. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
5. Spray a large, shallow baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread half of the tortilla wedges in the baking dish, and top with half of the cheese, half of the turkey mixture, half of the beans, and half of the olives. Top with remaining tortilla wedges, and repeat with the remaining cheese, turkey mixture, beans, and olives. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with half of the pico de gallo and the avocado. Spoon a large dollop of the sour cream on top of the nachos. Sprinkle with the scallions. Serve immediately, with the remaining pico de gallo on the side.
Make it an experience by adding some decorations or crafts:
Have the family wear green or red, colors of the Mexican Flag.
Mix up some virgin frozen drinks and take to the patio, listening to some mariachi music, dancing around a sombrero or just making it a fiesta that creates memories for your family.