Once again, Cinco de Mayo is upon us. Just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Mexican on Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco De Mayo, meaning The 5th Of May, commemorates a crucial moment the Mexican conflict against the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. A fairly small Mexican militia (estimated at about 4,500 men) stopped and defeated the French army, numbering about 6,500 soldiers. Although the victory was short-lived (Napoleon sent more troops to Mexico, eventually taking control), the battle remained an important benchmark event for Mexico because it boosted morale and created a sense of unity among its people, which gave them the impetus to depose French rule a year after the French took control. The holiday is primarily a regional one, celebrated in, of course, in the state of Puebla.
Also like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo has become a bigger holiday in the U.S. than it is in Mexico, and the same way it brought the people of Puebla together, so it brings Mexicans in the U.S. together. For Americans, Cinco de Mayo means breaking out the tequila and eating some great Mexican food. The standard chips, salsa, and guacamole is a good start (who doesn’t like that?), but to really make it great Cinco de Mayo, try making some dishes that will wow your friends.
Here are a few of the many sites where you can get amazing Cinco de Mayo recipes:
If making a rocking margarita is your concern, here are a few sites for you:
At the Natural Gourmet Institute, we had Mexican day, which was our next-to-last class, and we cooked up some unbelievable food (see photos). Mexican cuisine, in my opinion, is one of the best in the world (although I can do without the chapulines—crickets). One of the dishes we made was mamelas, small disks made of masa harina and topped with any number of fresh ingredients. They make great tapas or appetizers. The original recipe belongs to the Natural Gourmet Institute, and I’ve added a few of my own notes, plus my own recipe for Pineapple-Mango Salsa. Below that is a recipe for Jicama with Lime, Salt, & Chile Powder, which makes a fantastic accompanying salad. It has those south-of-the-border flavors we all love with a satisfying crunch from the jicama.
Happy Cinco de Mayo and Buen Provecho!
2 cups masa harina
½ tsp sea salt
1 ¼ cups warm water or as needed
3 tb extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together masa harina, ¼ tsp sea salt and oil.
3. Pour warm water into masa harina (mixture should be soft but not too sticky).
4. Roll into walnut-size balls.
5. Flatten balls with tortilla press.* (Mamelas are not paper thin. About 2x as thick as tortillas.)
6. Place on non-greased cast iron pan** until slightly scorched on both sides.
7. Top with your favorite toppings and bake in oven an additional 5-7 minutes.
*If you don’t have a tortilla press, simply roll them out with a rolling pin as round as possible.
**If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can broil them or use a regular pan and oil the mamelas slightly.
Top each mamela with any (or all) of your favorite toppings. Here are some favorites:
Black bean salsa
Pineapple or mango salsa
Cheese (cotija, queso fresco, cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack)
Copyright © Roberta Roberti
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup diced mango
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp finely minced cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp guava paste or guava fruit spread
1 tsp sea salt
Combine pineapple, mango, onion, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. If you are using guava fruit spread, add it along with the lime juice to the salsa and mix well.
If you’re using guava paste, combine it with the lime juice and mash it until the paste is soft. Stir it vigorously into the salsa.
Makes about 2 cups.
Jicama with Lime, Salt, & Chile Powder
Copyright © Natural Gourmet Institute
Yield: 6-8 servings
3-4 tb lime juice
1 medium jicama (about 2 pounds)
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chile powder
1. Place lime juice in a medium bowl.
2. Peel jicama and cut into batonet or julienne slices* and place into bowl with juice.
3 . Sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Let marinate 30 minutes.
5 . Just before serving, sprinkle with chile powder.