The Familia Kitchen Guide to the History, Food and Drinks of Cinco de Mayo
- April 2021
- By Kim Caviness
- Recipe from Mexico
Including 18 favorite Mexican recipes to serve at your celebration with friends and family
No matter who you are or where your family is from, Cinco de Mayo is el dia de fiesta when we’re all invited to celebrate our neighbor to the south, the homeland of the largest U.S. Latinx population, and the general awesomeness of all things Mexico.
Cincos tend to go like this: it’s spring in the U.S., el sol is out (🤞🏽), and family and friends gather. The tunes get turned all the way up, and the Mexican comida and tequila start flowing. It’s time to raise a glass … to what? How many of us know what we’re celebrating?
What is the meaning of the fifth day in May—historically? Do Mexicans in Mexico celebrate it, too, or is it just an U.S. excuse to drink lots of tequila? How did Cinco get started in the U.S.? Is it like St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone is extended a Mexican abrazo for el día? And what comidas and bebidas should we make to serve an authentic feast for those coming over? So many questions.
Glad you asked.
Familia Kitchen is on it. We dug into the history and talked to our favorite Mexican cooks and friends here in the States and back in Mexico. Here is what happened one fateful May 5, why it matters, and what to drink and eat in celebration this and every Cinco de Mayo. Que viva Mexico.
The History of Cinco de Mayo in Mexico
We turned to Familia Kitchen Contributing Editor Karina Corona to dig into the significance of Cinco and what Mexicans in Mexico think about the day. As she reports here: ”Long story short, the dia de fiesta now known as Cinco de Mayo was a major win for Mexican independence and a big L for the Napolean-era French army.
But, of course, there’s more. ”The full story, however, is a bit more dramatic. In order to paint a full picture of why this holiday is celebrated, we first have to travel back in time to the late 1800s,” writes Karina about May 5, 1862 in the Mexican town of Puebla—and what it means for us today.
Read the entire thing here, or click here:
Honor the History and Let the Cinco Celebration Begin
Now that you know why we’re celebrating, what should you drink and eat in Mexico’s honor? We dug into that, too. Below are Familia Kitchen’s favorite Cinco de Mayo dishes, ready to be made and served to your family and friends—albeit in smaller fiestas this year, as we continue to put safety primero. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate all that the dia means, right?
To toast the Mexicans’ fight for their country, authentically, let’s start with traditional bevs. Not yet sure what to mix up for your Cinco gathering? Here are 4 classic cocktail recommendations from our community of cooks:
Los Drinks of Cinco de Mayo: 4 COCKTAILS
A plato of traditional Mexican comida goes best with a Mexican beer and/or anything with tequila, like one of these below three margaritas or the refreshing paloma.
1. The Classic Margarita—From Our Tequila Expert MariCarmen
We love margaritas here at Familia Kitchen, so por favor trust us when we tell you this is a guaranteed-great receta for a classic and easy-to-make margarita from our favorite Catadora, MariCarmen Ortíz Conway, a globally renowned tequila expert. And we mean expert, as in certified Tequila Expert,™ a certification from the Cultura y Capacitación del Tequila, A.C. “This is a VERY successful margarita,” says MariCarmen. “Always.”
2. Mezcal Margarita With Cucumber and Jalapeño
“I love mezcal in my margarita,” says Ana González Quaid, Familia Kitchen co-founder. “It gives the margarita this incredible smoky depth and a lot more oomph. I love the flavor of mezcal.” We are big fans of her recipe.
3. Naihomy’s Healthy & Salud!-able Margarita
Familia Kitchen Healthy & Delicioso editor Naihomy Jerez ditched simple syrup and Triple Sec and went back to the margarita essentials for natural flavor: fresh lime and orange juice. Add your favorite tequila and a dash of sparkling water and you’ve got yourself a bebida that’s good and good for you in this saludable margarita.
4. Paloma Perfecta
Paloma means dove in español, beautifully capturing the sparkling lightness of this grapefruit and tequila cocktail, another favorite here at Familia Kitchen. “The paloma is a thirst-quenching tequila cocktail that’s very easy to mix and serve. A favorite drink from Mexico, it is equally popular worldwide and one of the best ways to show off a great tequila,” writes MariCarmen of her must-try recipe.
La Comida of Cinco de Mayo: STARTERS
It all depends where you are. On the menu at classic Cinco celebrations in Puebla, Mexico—where General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French army in 1862—are traditional dishes, like mole poblano and chicken tinga. In the States, we tend to gravitate to Mexican dishes that traditional and accessible like guacamole. Here are several favorite family guac recipes sent to us by the Familia Kitchen community.
5. Classic Guacamole With One Secret Ingredient
6. Guacamole Crostini With Onion and Bacon Jam
7. The Double Treat: Guacamole and Pico de Gallo
8. Salsa Verde for Your Favorite Tacos
9. Because You’ll Need Chips for Those Dips: Make Totopos
La Comida of Cinco de Mayo: MAIN DISHES
10. Baja-Style Fish Tacos with Tilapia, Pineapple and Chipotle Sauce
11. Slow-Cooked Beef Barbacoa Tacos
12. For Your Vegetarian Friends: Veronica’s Almost-Vegan Taco Bowl
13. Green Chicken Enchiladas to Make Your Cinco Soar
14. The Chicken Tinga That Won One Family’s Mexican Tostada Cookoff
15. If You Want to Go All Out: The Mole Recipe Contest Winner
La Comida of Cinco de Mayo: DESSERTS
A sweet treat at the end of your Cinco de Mayo feast sends everyone home full and happy. We offer three classic postre recipes that we received from one Mexican and two Puerto Rican cooks: margarita pie, flan and tres leches cake. The last two Boricua recipes are for desserts served and loved in Mexican homes, and we humbly offer them as menu ideas for Cinco feasting.
16. Maria’s Easy Margarita Pie With Tequila
17. It May Be Boricua, but This Flan Will Wow Your Cinco Guests
18. Tres Leches Cake—the Most Rich and Delicioso Cake
How did we do? Did we not incude your favorite Cinco de Mayo recipe?
Let’s fix that. You are officially invited to submit it to us at Familia Kitchen so that we can showcase your family-famous Mexican national feast Cinco dishes.
For more Cinco de Mayo authentic inspiration for memorably great food and drink—btw, comida and bebida are our two favorite Spanish words (and they also rhyme, which, of course, we love)—take a spin through our Latinx treasury of more Mexican families’ favorite recipes at FamiliaKitchen.com.
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