Cinco De Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican heritage, is a major event in many parts of the United States. While in Mexico it is a legal holiday, the festivities are rather muted, except in Puebla where May 5th is a day of special significance. For there, over 300 years ago, a rag tag group of Mexican ex-guerillas drove off a powerful army of 6,000 French invaders. Never mind that the city was eventually conquered, resulting in the Viennese Prince Maximillian being installed by Napoleon III as Emperor of Mexico. The courage of these Mexican soldiers has not been forgotten and this holiday represents the Mexican spirit to survive.
Cinco de Mayo, rather than Mexican Independence Day on September 15th, became popular in the U.S. as it became a rallying point to the Chicano students at Cal State in Los Angeles during the 1960s and these students and the faculty wanted to celebrate in the spring. The original premise was to introduce Mexican cultural arts and history into the curriculum, but as has happened with St. Patrick’s Day, a much larger group of people than just Mexican Americans have made it into a holiday that everyone can celebrate. One should keep in mind, however, that Cinco de Mayo is not just an excuse for a party, but a time to discover or rediscover the cultural contributions of the Mexican Americans.
Spicy Mexican Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail
This is my version of a recipe shared with me by my good friend, Chef Roberto Santibañez and was recently on line at Phil Lempert’s Supermarket Guru for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Roberto serves this delicious concoction at his Fonda Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY.
- 1 pound peeled medium (23-30 count per pound) shrimp
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt, or ½ tablespoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup Mexican beer such as Corona Extra
- 1/2 cup clam juice
- 1/2 cup catsup
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chile jalapeño, with seeds
- 2 ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
Rinse the shrimp and drop them into a medium pot of 1 quart boiling, heavily salted water for one minute. Drain the shrimp, cool and then chill.
Stir together the beer, clam juice, catsup, cilantro, lime juice, onion and jalapeño in a medium bowl. Stir in the chilled shrimp, and gently stir in the avocado. Fill 4 cocktail glasses and serve.