People around the world will feast on tacos and tequila in celebration of Cinco de Mayo this Sunday. But most of the those olé-ing/mole-ing it up will actually be outside of Mexico, according to former Mexican-food chef, Arlette Martinez. The Mexican Canadian said that the holiday is not a big deal in Mexico except for the state of Puebla, where the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.
The first Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the U.S. took place in the 1950s and 1960s, according to National Geographic. Martinez said they were done as a sign of solidarity, and noted that Cinco de Mayo became more of a drinking party around the 1980s when the celebrations began including alcoholic corporate sponsors.
"Sadly, during this time, we also encounter a lot of conspicuous racism," she said. "It is great that people embrace Mexican food and culture, but please avoid the ponchos, sombreros and moustaches for photo booths. Piñatas are OK because they're fun."
Also fun is all the Mexican food to be had around this time of the year (and well, any time of the year, really). So grab a cerveza and up your Cinco de Mayo celebrations with these delicious dishes recommended by Martinez and HelloFresh's head chef, Corby-Sue Neumann.
Watch: "How to be culturally sensitive when celebrating Cinco de Mayo." Story continues below.
Perhaps one of the most celebrated Mexican sauces, mole is proof that Mexico's culinary contribution to the world has an ancient history that can be traced back to the Mayans and Aztecs, said Neumann.
"This rich sauce of ground cocoa, earthy spices and a peppery bite of chilli is balanced flavour at its very best. Add fresh cilantro or a squeeze of lime citrus, and you've got Mexico in a meal," she added.
Notes: The word "mole" comes from the Nahuatl (indigenous language) word "molli" meaning "sauce" or "mixture." The most famous mole, mole poblano, comes from Oaxaca and Puebla, said Martinez, adding that it's usually served in celebrations such as weddings, quinceañeras, etc.
Ingredients: Ground cocoa, dried chilies (ancho, mulato, guajillo), chocolate, raisins, almonds, plantains, cinnamon, clove, cumin, poblano pepper, cilantro, lime and other ingredients (more than 30 in total).
Originating from the Mexican state of Puebla, what makes this dish special is the poblano peppers. These mild chilli peppers add an extra punch that makes this dish a standout, said Neumann.
Notes: The poblano pepper is often featured in foods eaten during Mexican independence celebrations, said Martinez, who was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. Another dish that uses poblano peppers is chiles en nogada, and is also eaten during Cinco de Mayo festivities, added the former chef.
Ingredients: Ground beef/veggie ground alternative, poblano pepper, all-purpose flour, Mexican seasoning, beef/veggie broth concentrate, chopped onion, chopped, flour/corn tortillas, Monterey jack cheese, lime, baby gem lettuce, honey, cilantro.
Mexico's rich street food culture lends itself to a wide variety of affordable and tasty authentic dishes. Street corn is an easy-to-prepare and widely-enjoyed snack sold by street vendors and in local markets across Mexico, said Neumann.
Ingredients: corn on the cob mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, feta or cotija cheese, cilantro, chilli powder and paprika.
Chilaquiles is Mexican comfort food at its finest. Traditionally, a stack of fried tortillas is topped with spicy sauces, plenty of cheese, and sometimes fried eggs.
Ingredients: black beans, tortilla chips, radishes, diced tomatoes, green onions, garlic, Mexican seasoning, cayenne pepper, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime.
Packed with delicious and filling meat and veggies, pork stew is a popular dish on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, said Neumann.
Ingredients: pork strips, chicken broth concentrate, cilantro, garlic, fresh corn kernels, Mexican seasoning, green bell pepper, tortilla chips, lime, crushed tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, sour cream, smoked paprika
You're going to want to wash these delicious dishes down with something, and what's better than tequila to help you do so? Neumann said her favourite Cinco de Mayo libation is the classic margarita.
Ingredients: tequila, fresh orange juice, lemon and lime, a pinch of sugar, and fresh mint.
*Throw it all in a shaker, shake 'er up to the count of 10, then pour the drink over crushed ice in a pre-chilled glass. You can never go wrong with a margarita!
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