You know, I love Thanksgiving. I love the Turkey and stuffing and the green bean casserole and the pies and the hours of thankful indulgence. And I love the 4th of July, a day which begs for a menu of juicy smoked-this and grilled-that and heaps of pasta salads, potato salads, baked beans, corn, and ice cream. Independence and a cookout. What's not to love? And there's Easter, with its savory ham. And Christmas, with its crumbly, sugary cookies and decadent baked sweets. I know holidays weren't created with food in mind, but when holidays roll around, food is always on my mind.
That's why I will welcome any holiday that demands I prepare a menu of more food than we could possibly eat. Cinco de Mayo (The 5th Of May) commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. Not super relevant to my every day life. But oh, how I love south-of-the-border food. And yes, I'm fully aware that many of the items we call "Mexican food" are not, in fact, Mexican. I'm okay with that. Because at the end of the day, Cinco de Mayo encourages me to use lots of cilantro and limes and spicy peppers and guacamole, and that's always a reason to celebrate.
I started LOVING Mexican food about 10 years ago. I've always liked it, but growing up, I just usually ate Taco Bell-type interpretations. Good, but MEH. Then I went to a restaurant called Maggie's Kitchen, which served authentic Mexican food cooked by actual Mexicans. Then I went to Nina's Taqueria, which, again, served real Mexican food prepared by people who know it. And I went to those places again and again, all the while discovering a deep fondness for Barbacoa. And for cilantro. And that beautiful, slightly-tomatoey, slightly-spicy rice. And refried beans that aren't pink and don't come out of a can. And real, honest-to-goodness pico de gallo and salsa verde and and and and....
So when it came time to have my own kitchen in my own house where I get to do all of the shopping and the cooking and the meal planning, I decided to make room in our calendar for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Our menu is fairly standard; last year, it was fajitas, this year, burritos, but mostly, it is the same stuff. This year, it will be my own version of Barbacoa (because I don't have access to a whole sheep, a pit lined with volcanic rock and mesquite, and leaves of a maguey cactus, I'm using chuck roast and a crock pot) to serve in gigantic burritos stuffed with black beans and cilantro-lime rice, sour cream, shredded cheese, and homemade salsa with roasted corn, tomatoes, and jalapenos. On the side, we'll have Mexican rice (like they serve at Nina's Taqueria), fresh guacamole, and fresh, home-fried tortilla chips. To top it off, we'll drink Lime Jarritos soda.
So it's not my holiday. So what? I will still eat myself silly celebrating it. Viva Cinco de Mayo!! Next up: Bastille Day!