Cinco de Mayo is coming soon! The day when we Americans take a chance to gorge ourselves on good beer (mmm, Negro Modelo), neon margaritas, and super cheesy Mexican inspired dishes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great excuse to eat yummy food that is not at all healthy. But let’s get a few things straight here…
A) May 5th is not Mexican Independence day.
B) Cheese + Tortillas does not equal Mexican food.
Mexico declared its independence from Spain on midnight, the 15th of September, 1810, officially declaring September 16th Independence Day. It was 11 years later before the first Spanish soldiers were told and forced to leave Mexico.
The celebration of Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day in 1862 when 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City. This victory kept Napoleon III for supplying the confederate army for another year and thus helped the Union army amass such a force that they defeated the confederate soldiers at Gettysburg. Then union was then able to help arm the Mexican army and to finally vanquish the French.
As a cultural festival in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo celebrations are really only celebrated in the city of Puebla. In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo is fast becoming a national holiday (ok, well almost).
Much of the celebration includes Americanized Mexican food. And no, it’s not really tex-mex either. But that is just fine seeing as we seem to embrace the day more than the average Mexican town.
To enjoy the day I suggest making a large batch of margaritas and vat of guacamole!
This guac is for the avocado purist, no tomatoes or silly things like that, just avocado love!
Guacamole for one:
- 2 avocados
- 2tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2Tb of onion, finely chopped or grated
- 6 or more slices of pickled jalapeno, chopped
- 2Tb pickled jalapeno juice
- cilantro for garnish
*I use pickled jalapenos for the tanginess (I think I made up that word), somehow it’s just not the same with fresh jalapenos.
If you are the lucky owner of a stone mortar and pestle then I recommend using that. The best ones are of course found in Mexico, but do not try to put them in your luggage. They are heavy and will break all of the other Christmas gifts packed into your luggage. If you choose to try this, only mom will receive the unbroken gift of the mortar and pestle brought back for her and your sisters will get, ummm, broken things.
If you are like me, without an awesome mortar and pestle, then choose a fork and bowl with sides high enough to smash an avocado against.
Begin by adding the garlic, onion and jalapeno to the empty bowl. I choose this order giving the avocado less time to oxidize. Split, seed, score the avocados. Scoop out the yumminess with a spoon and add to the bowl. Add lime and jalapeno juices. Season with salt & pepper and mash all of it together with fork until almost smooth. Garnish with cilantro and serve with fresh tortillas or chips.
A few notes about avocados:
Avocados are a fruit (from the avocado tree) native to Central America. They only begin to ripen when cut from the tree and are ripe when the skin turns blackish. Choose ripe ones that are uniformly soft and have no squishy spots on them. Too soft and the flesh will have brown spots and become stringy. Plan to use the whole avocado once you cut into them, they do not store well. If storing avocados or guacamole (why would you?!) then squeeze a little lime juice on the exposed surface, place pit into center of bowl or fruit, and press plastic wrap to surface to keep oxidation at bay.
The most common types of avocado found are Florida and Hass. Florida avocados are larger and lighter in color with smoother skin. These are less buttery with a fruity quality to them. Hass are smaller, darker, with rough skin. They are buttery with a rich fatty quality. Both are sublime in my opinion.