Part 1 Getting in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo
1Learn about the significance of Cinco de Mayo. Many people think it is Mexico's Independence Day, but that is on September 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Battle of Puebla was not a turning point in the Mexican and French conflict, as the French invasion succeeded the following year. Mexico was the underdog of the Battle of Puebla.
- The French Army was considered the greatest military force on the globe, having remained undefeated for 50 years. The Mexican forces were outnumbered (4,500 vs. 6,040) yet after being attacked, they suffered far fewer losses (83 Mexicans died, 462 French died).
- The victory in battle is the primary reason for celebration in Mexico, while Cinco de Mayo in the United States has come to be a time to celebrate Mexican culture.
- Cinco de Mayo is also a great opportunity to talk to some of the more elder Hispanic members of your community. Ask them where they immigrated from, what they do for a living, and what their Mexican heritage means to them.
2Dress up for the holiday. You can incorporate the colors green, white, and red (the colors of the Mexican flag) into your outfit. Draping the Mexican flag around your shoulders is also another easy way to bring the Cinco de Mayo spirit to a party. You can also wear clothes inspired by Mexican traditions, or actually designed by Mexican clothing designers.
- Instruments, such as a guitar, or maracas can liven up any chosen costume.
- Try to stay away from purchasing or making a typical Americanized version of a Cinco de Mayo costume. These costumes tend to promote cultural insensitivity, and can make others feel very uncomfortable.
3Play Mexican style music. The best Cinco de Mayo party idea is to hire a mariachi band. This is a group of traditionally dressed Mexicans who will play music that accompanies the holiday. If you have some spare money to use for the party, feel free to visit websites to hire a mariachi band near you.
- If, however, you do not have a lot of money to spend, you can always create your own Mexican themed playlist for your Cinco de Mayo party. Search on Google for the "top billboard songs in Mexico" or "top billboard songs in Spanish." This will allow you to search for songs that are popular today.
- You can always learn how to play guitar, or the maracas yourself. See either How to Make Maracas or How to Play Guitar.
4Put up Mexican-style decorations. This might mean red, white and green streamers (colors of the Mexican flag). Purchase a Mexican flag at your nearest department, or party prop store to hang around your room. Brightly colored tableware can also be purchased to serve food on.
- Making a piñata is another great option to add to any Cinco de Mayo party. You can use it as decoration or as a fun activity for the kids. Piñatas can be bought at most party stores, especially around the time of the Cinco de Mayo holiday. For more information on how to make your own piñata, visit: How to Make a Piñata.
- Use the colors of the Mexican flag (green, white and red) on your clothing, accessories, or anywhere else you may find relevant.
- Luminaries are also another great traditional option. These are tin candle-holders with punched holes in them to create the effect of a starry night. Visit How to Make Luminaries for more information.
Dance around with friends and family. The best known Cinco de Mayo themed dance is the Mexican Hat Dance. However, there are other Latin-style dances such as the salsa, rumba, or folk-lorico. You can hire a professional to teach the partygoers multiple Mexican style dances. There are also numerous videos on YouTube which will teach you some simple Latin dance routines.
Part 2 Making Appetizers, Side Dishes and Margaritas
1Mix up some guacamole. Grind together 3 tablespoons of chopped white onion, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, 4 chiles serranos, and 1 teaspoon of salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Do so until the consistency is that of a paste.
- Cut 3 avocados in half longways using a sharp knife. Remove the pits but do not throw them away. Remove the flesh of the avocado with your knife, and toss it into the original mixture. Mash the flesh in with the mixture, and stir with a spoon until the ingredients are consistent.
- Chop up 2/3 cup of finely mayo chopped (not peeled) tomatoes. Toss these into the bowl as well, and mix with the other ingredients.
- Place your guacamole in a serving bowl. Sprinkle extra onion and tomato overtop of the guacamole. You can add the pits on top for an added visual effect. Serve immediately with a fresh flour tortilla.
- For more information on how to make different types of guacamole, see: How to Make Guacamole.
2Cook Mexican flan. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Get out a 9 inch round cake pan. In a blender, combine 8 eggs (whites and yolks), one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix these together until the ingredients become smooth.
- In a medium sauce pan, place 1 cup of white sugar. Place the pan on the stove and continuously stir until the sugar liquifies. Remove from heat when it begins to turn light brown, and place it in the waiting 9 inch cake pan. Pour egg mixture overtop the liquified sugar.
- Place your cake pan inside of a roasting pan. Pill your roasting pan up with water, till the point where the water goes about half-way up the side of the cake pan. Then take the roasting pan and put it in the oven.
- Cook the flan for about an hour. You can periodically check when the time is almost expired with a knife. Simply stick the knife into the flan. If it does not stick, the flan is done.
- Serve the flan. Simply take the pan out and rest it safely for about an hour. When you are ready to serve, place a plate upside-down overtop of the cake pan. Then flip the cake pan over, holding the plate against it. You might have to shake the cake pan slightly, or use a knife to get the flan to come out.
- For more information on how to make flan, visit: How to Make Flan
3Serve some fresh salsa verde. Purchase about 6-8 medium-sized tomatillos. Take the husk off by hand, and rinse the flesh with some warm water. In a blender or a food processor, combine the tomatillos with 1 jalapeno, 5-6 springs of cilantro (finely chopped), and 1/4 cup of water. Process the ingredients until they have the consistency of a puree (almost a liquid, but not quite). Pour the ingredients into a serving dish.
- Finely chop a white onion. You will want about a 1/4 cup. Place the onion in a strainer and run water over them. Shake the strainer to make sure the water coats all of the onion. Take the onion and pour it directly into the serving dish, along with the salsa verde.
- Stir in about 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the salsa verde. It is now ready to be served.
- For more information on making salsa verde, please see: How to Make a Salsa Verde.
4Make Mexican grilled corn. First, you will need to purchase 4 ears of corn. De-husk them by hand, but leave on the core ends so that you have something to grab them with. Preheat your grill or stove to medium-high heat. While your stove or grill is warming up, make the mixture which will be lathered onto the corn.
- The mixture includes: 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 and 1/2 cups of sour cream, and 1/4 cup of freshly chopped cilantro. Mix those together in a bowl, either by hand or with a stirring spoon. After you have completed making this mixture, place your corn on the heat.
- Make sure to turn the corn continuously so that it heats on all sides. Take your corn off after it starts to turn slightly brown around the edges.
- Lather on the mayonnaise mixture while the corn is still hot. Grate parmesan cheese onto the corn. Lastly, squeeze a lime wedge overtop the corn. For more information about this specific recipe, see: How to Make Parmesan Lime Grilled Corn.
5Mix together the perfect margarita. The most important thing to buy is the tequila. The best tequila is 100% agave. A good bottle of tequila will cost anywhere between 30-50 dollars. You will also need to purchase Cointreau, a type of triple sec (orange flavored liqueur). Cointreau does not leave an aftertaste like other brands of triple sec do.
- Mix together, in a margarita mixing cup, the following ingredients: 2 ounces of tequila, 1 ounce of Cointreau, 1 ounce lime juice. Pour in some crushed ice, and shake well.
- Take a cocktail glass and sprinkle lime juice over the rim. Dip the rim of the glass into salt poured out onto a plate.
- Finally, pour the mixed ingredients into the glass. Garnish with either a lime wedge, umbrella, etc. For information regarding other types of margaritas to make, see: How to Make a Margarita.
Part 3 Serving a Cinco de Mayo Themed Main Course
1Make some traditional Sopes. Combine 3 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 tablespoon of salt into a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until a dough begins to form. If the dough seems to dry, add warm water by the teaspoon to the dough until it becomes cinco de mayo skull pictures soft.
- Lightly flour a table or surface. Place your dough on the surface, and knead until all of the ingredients are well mixed (about 5 minutes). See: How to Knead Dough
- Roll small balls of dough out. Each of them are traditionally 2 inches wide. Once you have all of your balls rolled out, press on each of them by hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.
- Heat 1/4 inch oil in a frying pan on your stove at medium to medium-high heat. Fry on both sides until golden brown. You can use tongs or a spatula to flip them (make sure to flip them only once to avoid over-frying them).
- Sopes go with almost any dish. You can serve them with cooked vegetables, shredded beef, carnitas, beans, cheese, etc. For more information on cooking sopes, please see: How to Make Sopes
2Grill some chicken fajitas. Mix together in a bowl the following ingredients: 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 cloves minced garlic, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Next, take 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and place them on a flat surface. Pound them with a mallet until they are 1/2 inch thick.
- Place the chicken breasts in a plastic bag, and pour the mixed ingredients in along with the chicken. Seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, allowing the chicken to marinade.
- If you use a grill to cook the chicken, turn the heat to high. If you are using stovetop, place a pan on one of the burners. Place a touch of olive oil in the pan, turning the heat to medium-high heat. Place the chicken either on the grill or in the pan. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, flipping once with either a fork, spatula, or tongs.
- Check the internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally. Once the meat has been properly cooked, take it off the heat, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken into 1/2 inch thick strips.
- Next, Slice 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, and 1 white onion. Place them on the same grill or pan, and cook them until they begin to turn soft. Stir them continuously so that all three ingredients become heated.
- Place your chicken slices over multiple flour tortillas. Take the onions and peppers directly off of the heat and put them overtop of the chicken. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. For more information on cooking fajitas, visit: How to Make Chicken Fajitas.
3Serve the perfect chalupa. Begin by taking out a skillet. Place it on the stove, and turn the heat to medium-high. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, or other cooking oil. Once your pan is hot, add in 1/4 cup of diced white onion. Stir with a spoon or spatula until the onions start to become translucent (a minute or two). Then add to the onions, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon of hot paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. Stir the onion and spice mixture.
- Once you have cooked your spices and onions together for a minute, dump in 1 pound of ground beef. Reduce the heat of your stove to medium, and allow your meat to cook. Continuously stir until your meat is brown.
- While your meat is simmering, get out another frying pan, and place it on the stovetop. Pour in about 1/4 inch frying oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and wait for your oil to heat up. Then take soft, round taco shells, one at a time, and dip them in the hot oil. As each of the shells is frying, take two forks and lift up each side of the shell as it is frying. Hold the sides up, so that the shell curls and remains that way.
- Take out each of your shells once they are golden brown. Place them on a paper towel to soak up any excess grease. Take your meat mixture off the heat as well and set it aside to cool.
- To serve, you simply take a shell and pour in some of the meat with a spoon into the curled shell. Then top it off with traditional taco toppings, such as chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese. For more information on how to make the perfect chalupa, visit: How to Make a Taco Bell Beef Chalupa Supreme
4Make enchiladas. Place a pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Put in about a tablespoon of cooking oil, and allow the oil to heat up. Then add in 1 and 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Season the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper. Each side of the chicken breast should get seven minutes. When the chicken is nearly done cooking, sprinkle on top of the chicken 2 teaspoons of cumin powder, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of Mexican spice blend. Once the chicken is done cooking, take it out of the pan and place it aside to cool.
- In the same pan you just cooked your chicken, saute 1 chopped red onion, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook until tender. Then add in 1 cup of thawed, frozen corn, 5 whole green chiles (seeded and finely chopped), and 4 chipotle chiles (seeded and finely chopped). Stir until well combined. Then add in one 28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes. Saute for one final minute.
- Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of canned enchilada sauce into a bowl. Dip each of your round, soft tortillas into the enchilada sauce. Spoon about 1/4 cup of meat mixture into each tortilla. Wrap the tortilla around the mixture, and place each of them face down in a baking pan, seam down. Top with a little extra enchilada sauce and shredded Mexican cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Once they are done, take them out. Serve with a garnish of sour cream and chopped tomatoes. For more information regarding how to make enchiladas, visit: How to Make Enchiladas.
5Cook the best black bean burritos. First, wrap two flour, 10 inch tortillas (or however many tortillas you plan to serve) in tinfoil. Place each of the wrapped tortillas in a preheated, 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put a skillet on your stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Place about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the pan, and allow it to heat up.
- Once your oil is heated, add in: 1 small white, chopped onion, 1/2 chopped red bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then pour one 15 ounce can of black beans (rinsed and drained) into the pan as well. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Dish out 3 ounces of cream cheese. Cut it into small cubes using a knife. Add the cream cheese to the skillet, along with a pinch of salt. Make sure the cream cheese is spread out. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. You can stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro if you like as well.
- Spoon mixture of black beans into the middle of each flour tortilla. Serve immediately. If you would like some more information on black bean burritos, visit: How to Make Burritos.
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- Don't confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day (September 16).
- An excellent idea to celebrate the holiday with your community would be to organize a Cinco de Mayo themed parade in your area. Or, you could always ask your community members to add a Cinco de Mayo themed float to your next parade.
- Try to remain culturally sensitive. While Americans might have an idea of what Cinco de Mayo is, people whom have emigrated from Mexico might be sensitive to the misappropriation of culture and ideas.
- If you are going to a Mexican party and plan to drink, choose a designated driver for going home.
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