Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! While not the largest south-of-the border celebration - that would probably be Dieciséis de Septiembre (Mexico's Independence Day) - Cinco de Mayo sure is a lot easier to pronounce if you happen to be a non-Spanish speaker. Especially after a few margaritas.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the outnumbered Mexican Militia over the French Army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Brave Mexican warriors entered the fray shouting their three-fold battle cry “Viva Mexico!” (translated: Long live Mexico) while the French, sensing impending defeat responded with a battle cry of their own, “Oh non pas encore!” (translated: Oh no, not again).
Interestingly enough, Cinco de Mayo is pretty much a regional holiday in Mexico and is primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla. In the United States, however, it has fast become a major holiday celebration throughout much of the country. Of course, Americans are always open to new ethnic expressions of celebration – especially if a lot of drinking is involved. Which is one reason why Congress just recently recognized Reddition Française (French Surrender Day), which may be celebrated any day when you have too much beer in the fridge.
But back to Cinco de Mayo. Festival Broadway is considered the primo Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world. This event, held in an eleven block area of downtown Los Angeles, welcomes over half a million people where shouts of “Viva Mexico! (Long live Mexico), “Dios bendice México” (God bless Mexico), and “Averigüe los nuevos rines en mi Cívico!” (Check out the new rims on my Civic) fill the air.
In Scottsdale, Arizona, the Rawhide Wild West Town has celebrated Cinco de Mayo with an annual running of the bulls. However, this may be a dying tradition. According to spokesperson Gimpy Delgado, the rates for Goring by Bull insurance have skyrocketed since the unfortunate death in Pamplona last year when a 30-year-old tourist was gored in the throat. Especially so since the man was taking a shower in his hotel room at the time.
Not to be outdone by the event in Scottsdale, the town of Chandler hosts the Running of the Chihuahuas. This cultural classic features over 150 pint-sized dogs racing for the ultimate canine prize: a tasty biscuit and a pat on the head. While not as dangerous as her sister event in Scottsdale, the Running of the Chihuahuas does produce a number of nipped ankles and more than a few humped legs.
And in San Diego, you can down your share of margaritas at the Cinco de Mayo Zonkey Fest where the Zonkey – a small pony that looks like a donkey and is painted with zebra stripes – holds court. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me the idea of painting zebra stripes on a pony could only have been hatched during a previous margarita-soaked Cinco de Mayo celebration.
So…how are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Me? With a cooler full of Dos Equis, a pitcher of margaritas, and a platter of homemade fish tacos. Hold the mayo.
CLASSIC FISH TACOS
PREP: 10 minutes COOK: 5 minutes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup beer
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 jalapeno pepper (or habernero for more heat), minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch white pepper
1/2 pound tilapia, cut into ½-inch strips
4 corn tortillas
1/4 head read cabbage, finely shredded
1 – 2 cups canola oil (enough to cover your pan by 1-inch)
1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, beer and salt. Mix until smooth.
2. In another medium bowl, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and lime juice. Gradually stir in the peppers, oregano, cumin, dill, cayenne, and white pepper.
3. Add oil to medium skillet to a depth of 1-inch and heat over medium-high heat.
4. Dredge the fish pieces in the flour mixture and then into the batter. Add pieces to skillet a few at a time and fry until crisp and lightly brown, a couple of minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
5. Lightly fry the tortillas until just beginning to crisp. Remove to paper towel.
6. Slather sauce on each tortilla, add fish and top with shredded cabbage.