At the end of this week we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. While officially it is a celebration of the Mexican Army’s “unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862,” in America it is the day to celebrate Mexican-American culture. As a foodie, one of my favorite ways to experience a culture is through its food. And in that regard, Mexico has undeniably offered our country an incredible feast. In so many restaurants and homes across our country, however, we have become so accustomed to things like tacos, quesadillas, and guacamole that we have practically completely re-imagined them and taken them far from their roots in Mexico. But when you get your hands (or mouth, as the case may be) on an authentic and beautifully slow-cooked mole or a scrumptious enchilada, the flavor undoubtedly trumps anything you can get at your local chain “Mexican” restaurant.
That being said, although Americans have in some cases made Mexican cuisine our own, that doesn’t mean that our version isn’t tasty. It’s just not quite authentic. So in an unapologetic moment of appropriation, I offer seven recipes that will help make this year’s Cinco de Mayo festive and delicious. If you plan to have some friends over to celebrate, make sure you include one of the desserts listed below. They are sure to be crowd-pleasers.
Cinco de Mayo Dippers
This little self-contained appetizer doesn’t necessarily have to be used exclusively for Cinco de Mayo. It’s a wonderful way to pack your favorite corn chip dips into one little container. Having a cookout this summer? Have these ready for your guests when they arrive so that they can munch on something while you fire up the grill. And of course, they’d be a welcome addition at any Super Bowl party. But for our current purposes, these little “Cinco de Mayo” dippers can help kick off your celebration of the holiday with friends.
Mexican Street Corn Dip
If you want to step it up a notch, this corn dip is going to impress. What’s wonderful about it is that it is really easy to prepare (it only takes 15 minutes). But if you want it to be out of this world, the key is fresh ingredients. Corn is beautiful at this time of year (and will only get better as summer approaches), so if you can find some fresh ears at your local farmer’s market, you’ll have the tastiest dip as a result. Don’t forget to use fresh jalapenos, cilantro, and green onions as well. They’ll all come together in a beautiful harmony.
Mini Sombrero Cookies
This little dessert might be better if you have children to entertain. They can even help decorate the cookies (if you can keep them from eating the gumdrops beforehand!).
Mexican Street Corn
If you have ever had Mexican street corn, you know how irresistible it is. It’s an incredible combination of beautiful sweet corn, some heat from Chipotle chilies, and of course garlic, lime, mayonnaise and lots of Cotija cheese. If you get a chance to make it just once for yourself, you’ll make it over and over again.
Who doesn’t love a margarita? And who doesn’t love a good cupcake? This dessert is a beautiful marriage of the two. Your guests will thank you.
Baked Crescent Churros
While this isn’t exactly an authentic way to make churros, it is certainly an easy way to do it. It is especially helpful if you have kids in your home and you need to get things done quickly and with as little fuss as possible. (And then those kids will eat these up faster than you can say “Happy Cinco de Mayo!”)
A proper Cinco de Mayo celebration isn’t complete without some alcohol. If you want to please a crowd, then you might want to consider making a margarita bar. It’ll give everyone the chance to individualize their drinks. It’s a great way to make everyone happy!