Something to celebrate!! It is not Mexican Independence Day, as many people mistakenly believe. It is, however, a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, commemorating the Mexican victory over French invasion forces at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862, 151 years ago.
I grew up and lived most of my adult life in Southern California. Cinco de Mayo is always a big deal. Not being Mexican, but having a ton of Mexican friends, I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with them. Sometimes it was a quiet at-home celebration with aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, and anyone else who happened along. Sometimes it was going out to a local fiesta to hear a mariachi band, see local dance troupes performing the folklorico dances.
However we celebrated, we celebrated with food. For those of us unable to handle the really good spicy dishes, there was always a little “sissy food” available. I don’t think it was actually called that, but it is how I thought of it.
I remember the fantastic homemade tamales Judy’s grandmother made. Judy is my oldest friend. We have known each other for 50 years. 50 years!! FIFTY!! Judy’s family still gets together on different occasions to make tamales. A few years back I was “back home” visiting Judy, Joe, and the families and I got to “help” make tamales. There is a definite knack to making them. It is a knack I lack. Most of mine had to be redone. Not good to eat, but good enough for a laugh anyway!
I haven’t lived in SoCal for about 14 years. I miss the little hole-in-the-wall places to go get a couple soft tacos. Or some really good taquitos and flautas. A tostada on a handmade shell. Guacamole made from avocados grown locally and not shipped from 2,000 miles away. These days I make do with my own pathetic versions of said dishes. You will not be seeing any recipes. It would be an enormous insult to Mexican cuisine. And an embarrassment to me to boot!
However you spend your day, HAPPY CINCO de MAYO!!!