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Cinco de Mayo Foods and Recipes

Breaking the Mexican fast-food mold


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Cinco de Mayo Mexican Foods

© 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is an important day in Mexico's history, celebrated with food and family. Take a look some favorite and updated Mexican dishes that go beyond the fast-food tacos and burritos that most folks are familiar with. Be sure to crack open the pinata full of Mexican recipes gathered especially for this holiday.

Cinco de Mayo History

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is often called Mexican Independence Day in error since Mexico declared its independence on September 16, 1810, some fifty years earlier. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more enthusiastically by Mexican descendants in the United States than in its native Mexico. Celebrations include not only wonderful Mexican foods, but also parades, mariachi music, and folk dancing.

Foods of Mexico

Traditional Mexican cuisine is likely to be quite different than expected by non-natives, and varies vastly from region to region in Mexico. Some areas prepare dishes that many might consider quite bland, yet others make avid use of spices and hot chile peppers. The earliest Mexican agricultural staples were beans, squash and chile peppers, with maize/corn arriving some 2,000 years later. Their diet expanded to include avocados, coconuts, papayas, pineapples, prickly pears, tomatoes, manioc, sweet potatoes, peanuts, amaranth, chia seeds, and more varieties of beans.

The herb of choice was usually epazote, similar to cilantro in its strong, pungent flavor, which also has carminative gas-reducing powers. Early meats included turkeys, ducks, venison, quail, peccaries, pigeons, and a wide variety of fish and shellfish.

Early traditional dishes included atole (porridge), tortillas (very thin flatbread), tamales (filled pastries, both savory and sweet), and sopas (soups). The cuisine has expanded to include a wide variety of dishes way beyond burritos, tacos, and salsa.

Cinco de Mayo Mexican Recipes
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