Celebrate Cinco De Mayo This Year By Trying Something Different

Posted on: 17 March 2015

Cinco de Mayo officially celebrates a victory of the Mexican army over the French on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. You probably don't realize this, but Cinco de Mayo is a bigger holiday in the United States than it is in Mexico! It's become a celebration of Mexican culture, including style, dance, music, and food. With that in mind, pick up your maracas, put down that ordinary taco, and gear up your taste buds to try some authentic Mexican fare.

Four Authentic Mexican  Foods To Try On Cinco De Mayo

Mexican cuisine is heavily regionalized, so what's considered a "traditional" dish depends a lot on where you're standing. Since the battle celebrated on Cinco de Mayo took place in the city of Puebla, it's only appropriate to focus the attention on recipes from that area.

1. Chalupas

Chalupas are tortilla shells, fried in lard, and pinched to resemble the small Aztec boats after which they're named. They're filled with just about anything, but especially shredded beef or pork, salsa, and onions.

As a favorite Puebla street food, vendors sell chalupas piping hot from their carts, much like hot dogs are sold in New York City. However, chalupas are easily dressed up with different ingredients, making it highly suitable for some of the best restaurant fare as well.

2. Chiles En Nogada

This dish was invented by Puebla nuns to honor the general who became Mexico's first emperor, after Mexico won independence from Spain. It's a meal of great historical significance. The green poblano peppers are stuffed with fruit and nuts, fried, covered with a creamy white walnut sauce, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Thus, the completed dish features the colors of the Mexican flag!

While the dish is traditionally a seasonal one, available only when pomegranates are ripe, the benefits of modern agriculture have combined to make this dish available year-round in some (but not all) Mexican restaurants.

3. Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano actually refers to the thick chili and chocolate sauce in this dish, rather than the dish as a whole. Usually served over chicken with fried bread, the origins of this dish are somewhat shrouded in mystery.

One legend says that it was served by an Aztec king to the conquistadors, believing that they were gods worthy of such a meal. Another legend says that the dish was created by 16th century Puebla nuns, desperate to put together something to feed a visiting Archbishop. A third story attributes its creation to a kitchen mishap in the Puebla convent.

Whatever its origins, the dish is certainly unique, and it won't disappoint you if you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal.

4. Camotes Enmielados

If you want sweeter fare, camotes enmielados (candied sweet potatoes) are a perfect choice. Generally the ingredients to the dish are limited to not much more than sweet potatoes, butter, and honey. 

The sweet potato was an important part of the Mayan diet, and one that heavily influences Mexican cuisine to this day. While you might find it too sweet to use as a meal, camotes enmielados can make a great side dish or even desert!

If you really want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, try a Mexican dish that you've never tried before. It doesn't have to be one of these dishes; there are many more authentic Mexican dishes out there that can delight you! For ideas, check out menus like El Cortez Restaurant.