Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a celebration held on......May 5. I'll bet you saw that one coming, right? This holiday is celebrated pretty much nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico's state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (In English, that's The Day of the Battle of Puebla). The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. (We have a town named for him in Texas.) Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16, on my birthday! Imagine, all over Mexico, people are having parties because it’s my birthday. Yeah, right.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations. Revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. My family and I were fortunate to see Folklorico Mexico perform colorful dances one May 5th. We've seen similar performances at the State Fair of Texas and in San Antonio. Love those swirly skirts the ladies wear.
In Texas, a cuisine known as Tex-Mex is very popular, especially with my family. So, I’ll share versions of Mexican dishes for Anglo kitchens. I’ll start with a salad/relish that can be used on chips, with lettuce to fill a tortilla bowl, or as a garnish with the meal.
1 (10 oz.) box frozen corn kernels
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 cup canned or jar salsa (We use Pace Medium)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado slices, sour cream, or guacamole.
1 dozen corn tortillas, quartered
4 large chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and cut into pieces
1 lb. Cheddar cheese, grated
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup milk
1 medium onion, diced
Cook onions in small amount of butter until clear. Combine soups, peppers, sour cream, milk, and onion. Grease 9x13 inch casserole dish. Layer tortillas, chicken, sauce, and cheese. Continue until all ingredients are used, ending with cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees F. for one hour, covered, until last 15 minutes. Remove cover and add a little more cheese or butter crumbs, if desired. This freezes well and serves 6 to 8 people.
You’re all set for a fiesta. Enjoy! Now I'm hungry for Tex-Mex food. Oh, right, I'm always in the mood for Tex-Mex dining.
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