Really we have no business celebrating Cinco de Mayo. You know where Cinco de Mayo isn't celebrated? Mexico. At least, not outside the state of Puebla, where it commemorates a great military victory the people of Puebla won over the French, which... way to go, guys. You beat the French. A real feather in the ol' cap.
Anyway, this regional festival migrated to the U.S. and somehow became representative of all things Mexican. Imagine if every Patriots' Day the entirety of Mexico ate chili cheeseburgers and got ripped on Bud Light while listening to Merle Haggard.
But just because we don't have a reason to celebrate doesn't mean we shouldn't. If you're going to festejar on Cinco de Mayo, put away the Tostitos salsa and flour tortillas and do it properly.
I got your Cinco de Mayo menu right here.
SALSAS Red and green, simple to prepare, can be made well ahead of time.
GUACAMOLE The real stuff. NO TOMATOES.
CHALUPAS Get some good corn tortillas, lightly fry them, top them with salsa and shredded chicken.
CARNITAS Tiny bits of slow-cooked pork that are perfect for stuffing into tacos with salsa, cilantro, and a little minced white onion.
AGUAS FRESCAS Two refreshing beverages made from hibiscus flowers and rice. The hibiscus variety is particularly good spiked with tequila.
DESSERT Arróz con leche, the Mexican version of rice pudding, can also be made well in advance and kept in the fridge.
Beer with lime is, of course, requisite. You're also going to need a cocktail of some variety. For that, I suggest the cóctel donají. It'll take a little doing, as you're going to have to run down some mezcál, which not every liquor store is going to carry, but if you can find yourself a reasonably priced bottle, grab it.
Here's how to make it.
1 lime, halved
3/4 cup orange juice
4 oz. mezcál
Grenadine to taste
Serves two drinks.
In a small dish combine the salt and chile powder in a ratio of about 4 to 1, salt to chile. Moisten the edge of two cocktail glasses with the lime halves, then dip the glasses into the chile salt to coat the rims.
Squeeze the limes into a cocktail shaker and add the orange juice and mezcál. Add ice and shake until well mixed. Pour into the two cocktail glasses, add grenadine to your liking, and drink up. Repeat until you're fluent in Spanish.