Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cinco de Mayo: Can I have another Corona please?

Pass the Pico de Gallo and cheers to the Mexican Army!

Most Americans believe May 5th is Mexican Independence Day, but it actually commemorates Mexico's improbably victory at the Battle of Puebla. In 1861, France invaded Mexico under the Napoleon's command, and with guns ablaze, demanded outstanding debts of the previous government be paid. Led by Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n, 2,000 Mexican soldiers, surprised and bested 6,500 French infantrymen in the south central region of Puebla, Mexico. Each year, the courage and fortitude of the Mexican soldiers puts a little "cha cha" of celebration in our step.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is only a regional celebration for Puebla, it has a much stronger following in the US than in Mexico. Similar to St. Patrick's Day for the Irish or the Chinese New Year, we use May 5th as a day to celebrate the entirety of Mexican culture. But if you happened to be traveling about 90 minutes south of Mexico City this week, here are some foodstuffs you might encounter.

Mole Poblano is the regional specialty of Puebla. The dish combines a seductive combination of chilies, spices, nuts and chocolate (plus almost 20 more ingredients) with fork tender turkey meat.

Chiles en Nogada is traditionally eaten around Independence day, September 16, when walnuts are in season. Large, green colored chilies, are stuffed with ground meats and dried fruits then on top, a rich walnut sauce studded with jewel like pomegranate seeds.

Black Sapote, is a regional fruit in the persimmon family. Its dark, sweet flesh earned in the nickname "chocolate pudding."

If you're thinking something more low key for this Monday's holiday, try some of theses quick and easy recipes straight from Puebla.
Jicama-Melon Salad
Soft Fried Tortillas with Tomatillo Salsa and Chicken

Whew! All that cooking, forget the Corona, I'll take a Margarita!