Here in the United States, particularly in areas with large Hispanic populations, Cinco de Mayo is a big annual celebration. It has become a very fun and festive day, celebrating the foods, music and culture of Mexico. It has also become a big drinking “holiday”, equivalent to St. Patrick’s Day. On March 17, everyone, no matter what their background, becomes Irish for a day. The same is true on Cinco de Mayo, where everyone becomes Mexican for a day, on May 5th. The Cinco de Mayo traditions started in California, in 1863, in response to the resistance to the French rule in Mexico. Miners up in Columbia (now known as Columbia State Park) started firing guns and setting off fireworks, as well as singing patriotic songs and making speeches upon hearing the news of the victory. However, celebrating the day really started to come become popular in Los Angeles, CA around the 1940’s, during the rise of the Chicano movement. From there it started to move around the country, but did not really become a mainstream day of celebrations in the United States as a whole until the 1980’s when marketing started popularizing it, and associating it with drinking beer.
With all the celebrations that occur in the United States, however, Mexico does not really celebrate it much. To most Mexicans, it is just another day. The only places in Mexico where Cinco de Mayo is really celebrated on a large scale are Puebla, Veracruz, and sometimes Mexico City. It is observed and celebrated in Puebla, where the victorious battle between the Mexican army and the French army took place, on May 5, 1862. However, the celebrations are vastly different in Puebla than they are here in the United States. In Puebla and Veracruz, the celebrations are more ceremonial and are honored with military parades and re-enactments of the Mexican-French battle. The event leading to the Mexican and French revolution was when Mexican President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium stating that all payments of all foreign debts would be suspended for 2 years because the Mexican Treasury was nearly bankrupt. Britain, France and Spain all sent their naval forces to Veracruz demanding payment. Britain and Spain negotiated with the Mexican Government and withdrew, but France saw this as an opportunity to establish a French empire in Mexico. On May 5, 1862, The Mexican army, which was less than half the size of the French army, and was not well equipped, defeated the heavily armed and much larger French army. Hence, the celebrations on that day, although the victory was very short lived. A year later, the French came in again, with 30,000 troops and once again defeated the Mexican army. This victory was also short lived though. In 1867, President Benito Juarez entered Mexico City and installed a new government. The significance of Cinco de Mayo was more for helping shape the United States though than it was for Mexico. If Mexico had not won in 1862, France would have aided the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, and the United States would be very different than how we know it today.
I will honor the day with Mexican food, but then I celebrate most things with food. That’s just what I do. I feed people.
We are dining on a spicy, blackened pork roast, with Mexican spices, Mexican street corn, pumpkin biscuits and garlic mashed potatoes (not Mexican, I know, although potatoes are originally from South America), and a bold red blend as my wine choice to complete the meal.
The dry rub for the pork was a mixture of cumin, crushed Aleppo chilies, ground Ajo Amarillo chilies, oregano, thyme and paprika. I had the rub on the pork for about 8 hours before we seared it and roasted it. It came out very flavorful, moist and tender.
Mexican Street Corn
I grilled the corn on the cob and rolled the cooked corn cobs in the spicy, creamy mixture.
2 oz of either cotija or Parmagian cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 TBSP sour cream
3 TBSP cilantro, chopped fine
4 tsp lime juice
1 large clove garlic, minced fine
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
4 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
Mix everything together except the cheese and roll the hot corn cobs into the creamy mixture. Once the corn cobs are coated, then roll into the cheese. This mixture would also be very tasty as a marinade for chicken as well. Desfruitas y que tengas un buen celebracion grandiote.
*** The crushed Aleppo chilies, ground Ajo Amarillo chilies are from Savory Spice, a locally owned and operated spice shop here in the Denver Metro area.