Cinco de Mayo |

Cinco de Mayo

Easy as Uno, Dos, Tres

Primo Margaritas 1 lime, cut into 5 slices Margarita OR coarse kosher salt 2 ounces anejo tequila 1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime OR lemon juice 1/2 cup ice cubes Arrange 3 lime slices to cover a small plate, and cover another plate with salt to a depth of 1/4-inch. Place a martini glass upside down on the limes; press and turn to dampen. Then dip the glass in the salt to coat the rim. Combine tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour into prepared glass, garnish with 2 remaining lime slices and serve. Makes 1 serving. VARIATION: On a hot day, even margarita purists such as the Border Girls, who don't often use the blender, are known to blend up a batch of margaritas for a crowd. Here's the formula for making 8 margaritas: Mix 2 cups tequila, 1 cup Triple Sec and 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon OR lime juice. Blend in 3 batches, by dividing each ingredient in thirds, adding about 1 cup ice for each batch, and processing until smooth. Carnitas Nortenas 2 pounds pork shoulder OR butt, cut into 2-inch cubes Salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2 pounds lard OR pork fat OR shortening 1 medium red onion, freshly diced 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (1/2 cup) 5 serrano chiles, chopped Mashed avocado Warm corn OR flour tortillas Green Tomatillo Salsa OR Fresh Salsa OR both (recipes follow) Generously season pork all over with salt and pepper. Melt lard in a large, deep saucepan or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add well-seasoned meat and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat 1 hour and 15 minutes, until fork tender. Remove pork with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. The fat can be cooled and then refrigerated for future use. When cool enough to handle, shred pork by hand or with tines of 2 forks. In a mixing bowl, toss pork with red onion, cilantro and chiles to combine. Transfer to a casserole; cover tightly. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven about 15 minutes, until heated through. Serve hot with mashed avocado, warm tortillas and Green Tomatillo Salsa or Fresh Salsa. Makes 6 servings. Hahas Similar in consistency to macaroons, these sweet and chewy coconut haystacks are easy for bakers to mix up by hand. 3/4 cup pecan halves 1 tablespoon butter, melted 2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots OR golden raisins 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14-ounce can) 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate OR chocolate chips Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick baking sheet. In a bowl, toss pecans with melted butter to coat evenly. Spread on another baking sheet. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pecans are golden and aromatic. Cool and coarsely chop. Combine chopped pecans and remaining ingredients, except chocolate, in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly moistened. Drop about 2 tablespoons batter for each cookie onto lined cookie sheet and gently flatten with your fingertips or a fork to 2 1/4-inch circles. (These cookies do not spread.) Bake at 325 degrees 10 minutes, until coconut turns pale golden, being careful not to overbrown. Cool completely on racks. Melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in microwave oven on high power about 1 minute. Dip tines of a fork in hot chocolate and drizzle over cooled cookies in a free-form pattern. Let set until hardened. Makes 20 to 24 cookies.

— Although Mexican food and drink has weaved its way into American culture, many customs south of the border also have migrated north throughout the years.

The festivities of Cinco de Mayo (translation: fifth of May) honor the victory of a Mexican and indigenous army that defeated a French army at the Battle of Puebla May 5, 1862.

It is not Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16.

Lupita Hathaway, Spanish instructor at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus, said many people confuse the celebrations.

“I think Independence Day should be more celebrated than Cinco de Mayo,” said Hathaway, a native of Puebla.

Because Mexico was in financial debt with Spain, England and France, France decided to place Archduke Maximilian of Austria as ruler of Mexico in order to expand French rule.

The payment of debt subsided to these countries, and although the United States was sympathetic with Mexico, it was going through a civil war.

When the French invaded the Mexicans, General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin defeated the larger French army.

Although the victory was short lived, so was Maximilian’s rule.

When France sent in more troops to expand its territory in the late 1860s, the French army fell to pressure from the United States.

Currently, Mexico has 31 states and a federal district, similar to the make up of the United States. Puebla is the name of the capital city and the state of Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo continues its celebration in the United States and Mexico, however, the state of Puebla has the largest celebrations.

“In the city there is a big, huge parade and the president of Mexico comes to watch,” Hathaway said. “It’s a military type of parade … very organized. They have beautiful, colorful uniforms.”

Hathaway mentioned typical Mexican dances, such as the Jarabe Tapat which allow the women to dress in bright sequined skirts called China Poblano. Butterflies, horses and the symbol of the Mexican eagle are sewn onto the skirts, Hathaway said.

Many Americans some of Hispanic descent and some who aren’t have picked up the tradition.

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