Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and parts of the United States to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. While the holiday has historical significance, it has also become a popular celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.
The origins of Cinco de Mayo can be traced back to the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860s. The French Empire, under the leadership of Napoleon III, sought to establish a foothold in Mexico and expand its colonial empire. However, the Mexican Army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, won a decisive victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862, which served as a symbolic victory for the Mexican people.
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, where the Battle of Puebla took place. The holiday is marked by parades, reenactments of the battle, and traditional Mexican music and dance. However, it is not a national holiday in Mexico, and celebrations are generally more subdued than in the United States.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a widely recognized celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Hispanic populations. Many cities hold large-scale festivals and parades, featuring traditional Mexican food, music, and dance.
However, the commercialization of Cinco de Mayo in the United States has also been criticized for perpetuating stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Some argue that the holiday has become an excuse for non-Hispanic Americans to indulge in excessive drinking and partying, rather than a genuine appreciation of Mexican culture and history.
Despite these criticisms, Cinco de Mayo remains an important celebration for many Mexican Americans and an opportunity to celebrate their cultural heritage. It is a time to come together with family and friends, enjoy traditional Mexican food and music, and honor the courage and sacrifice of the Mexican soldiers who fought for their country’s freedom.
While many people will utilize the day as an opportunity to over-indulge, it is important to approach the holiday with respect and cultural sensitivity, and to remember the historical context in which it originated.
That said, we love a good taco. Here’s our favorite recipe for making incredible gourmet tacos at home. Feel free to try it out!
Serves 4-6 people:
- 1 lb. skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green), thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 8-12 corn or flour tortillas
- Toppings of your choice, such as crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, and hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Season the skirt steak with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the steak and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, until browned.
- Transfer the steak to a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked to your desired degree of doneness.
- While the steak is baking, reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion and bell peppers to the same skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant.
- Warm the tortillas according to package instructions.
- To assemble the tacos, thinly slice the steak against the grain and divide it among the tortillas. Top with the sautéed onion and bell peppers, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice. Add hot sauce if desired.
- Serve immediately and enjoy your gourmet tacos!
Note: This recipe can be customized by using different types of steak or other meats, such as shrimp or chicken. You can also experiment with different toppings, such as pickled red onions, chipotle mayo, or fresh mango salsa.