Contributing Writer: Jose Lopez —
Cinco de Mayo is an important holiday for the people of Mexico. Cinco de Mayo translates to the fifth of May. On this day in 1862, Mexico defeated the French in battle in a small village called Puebla. Their victory was symbolic and is celebrated in the US and Canada as well. Here are some suggestions on food, decorations and music to celebrate 5 de Mayo!
Popular dishes on 5 de Mayo include tacos, tostadas, tamales, chips, guacamole, and churros. To make the tacos you can go with hard or soft shells. Then within the taco you can have either chicken or beef, along with lettuce and cheese. Tostadas are similar to tacos although they are a flat tortilla which you can also put the same ingredients as tacos on. Tamales are made with masa, which is a corn starch, and filled with meats and vegetables.
Here is a good home-made tamales recipe:
- 3 lbs Pork shoulder or butt
- Black pepper
- 10 lbs Masa (we use MASECA brand)
- 2 cups of pork lard
- 1 lb dried corn husks
- ¼ lb Guajillo chile pods
- ¼ lb Puya chile pods
- Sesame seeds
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp Cumin
- Soak corn husks in water til they moisten
- Mix masa with enough water and pork lard so there are no lumps and there it is thick yet spreadable. Salt as desired.
- Cut the pork meat into small chunks for boiling. Boil in salted water for approximately 90 minutes.
- Roast the sesame seeds and garlic cloves in a saucepan to release more flavor.
- Boil chile pods for until tender. Optionally remove seeds for a more tame flavor.
- Blend the chile, sesame seeds, garlic, cumin, black pepper, salt with added water in a blender. You now have your red chile!
- It’s now time to assemble the tamales. Take a corn husk and spread on masa with a spoon till it covers most of the husk. Put pieces of shredded pork with about 2 tablespoons of chile. Be moderate with your pork and chile sauce to not overfill! Fold in the top and bottom then fold over the flaps of the husks.
- Finally your tamales need to be steamed. Use a large pot and place tamales around the perimeter, stacking them higher as you go. Add enough water to keep it below the steamer but also add some extra corn husks to keep the tamales from getting wet. Steam for about an hour.
- Enjoy your hot tamales along with your favorite salsa!
Having good guacamole makes the celebration even better, especially when it is home-made with fresh avocados. To complete the food experience, churros are the perfect dessert.
Churros are pastry sticks with cream filling that are covered in sugar — check out this recipe:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 limes, zested
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Special equipment: Pastry bag and large star tip
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with water, salt and zest of 1 lime. Bring to a simmer and then slowly whisk in flour. Remove from heat and keep whisking until mixture forms a ball and breaks away from the sides of the pan. Slowly add eggs in thirds. Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and refrigerate 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees F. Remove batter from refrigerator and slowly squeeze 3-inch long strips of batter into the oil. Fry in batches, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Drain churros on paper towels. In a paper bag, add sugar, cinnamon and remaining zest. Once churros have cooled slightly, in batches, toss churros in bag and shake to coat with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson
Having decorations for the celebration can make the party even more enjoying. Pinatas are one of the most fun decorations you can have because they are stuffed with candy inside. Traditionally, children are spun around and blind folded before hitting the pinata with a stick to see if they can break the pinata and drop the candy. This is definitely a fun game for the party. Another decorations you can have is papel picado, which translates to cut out paper. Papel picado is hung all over the streets of Puebla on 5 de Mayo so it is an authentic decoration. Other decorations can include colorful flowers, tissue paper streamers, and balloons.
Last on the Cinco de Mayo party check list is music. Traditional Mexican music is played during this celebration which includes mariachi music, corridos, meringue, salsa, and Latin music. All of these up beat music types are sure to get your party guests dancing and excited. Some specific song recommendations are La Bamba by Los Lobos, El Rey by Vicente Fernandez, and Cielito Lindo by Mariacha Vargas.
These food, decorations, and music recommendations are sure to make your 5 de Mayo celebration one to remember! Have fun with your family and friends on this upcoming festive day.