Cinco de Mayo—One of the BEST COMMEMORATIONS Ever!

Cinco de Mayo (NOT a holiday, but a day of remembrance) is on its way! And no matter your ethnicity, THIS is one day to observe and enjoy. I say that because coming from fairly stoic Swedish stock, I always envied how the Latinos enjoyed life—at least those in my neighborhood. I paid close attention to how they honored their culture and remembered their heritage. These folks knew how to have fun while paying homage to those that sacrificed in their behalf!

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. The day is celebrated with many traditional festivities such as parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Yes, food, lots of delicious Mexican dishes! And it’s not uncommon for the holiday celebration to last an entire week, especially in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

This popular traditional Mexican day-of-remembrance commemorates the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The French were well-trained and well-financed. It was a BIG deal to defeat such a powerful army.

So how did the holiday come to be such a large celebration in America? After the Mexican Civil War in 1915, many Mexican people came to the United States and settled in the southern states. And of course, when they came, they brought with them their customs, traditions, holidays, and days of commemoration—including Cinco de Mayo.

And the American people began celebrating Cinco de Mayo alongside their Mexican neighbors, but oftentimes they didn't really understand what they were celebrating; to most folks it was just a fun celebration of Mexican culture.

Thus, I share this bit of history so that in the off chance you might be lucky enough to be near a full-blown Cinco de Mayo celebration, you’ll understand better what all the excitement is about, and be able to join in, not only with a gusto for their marvelous zest for fun, but with a deep respect for WHY THE MERRIMENT. It truly is more than an excuse to eat tacos, drink margaritas, and wear fake sombreros.

With that, I’ll conclude with an exceptional recipe for everyone’s favorite Mexican condiment—guacamole. I know there are lots of guac recipes out there, but this is special. The addition of smoked paprika puts this guac in a league of its own. The subtle, smoky flavor is a perfect accent to the creamy avocado and tart, fresh lime juice. I like to serve it with homemade corn tortilla chips, generously dolloped into our family’s secret chili recipe, or of course, slathered all over tacos and burritos! See what you think, and “Feliz cinco de mayo!”

Smokey Guacamole


3 to 3 1/2 large, ripe avocados
2 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
1/2 small onion peeled and diced
1 jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Use a fork to mash the avocado and mix the ingredients together till well combined. Salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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