Cinco de Mayo food is as good as traditional Mexican grub gets. This holiday celebrates Mexican culture, and the ethnic recipes and special celebratory dishes are a huge part of the festivities. Those traveling to Mexico are in for a real treat with various festivals serving up hot dishes, and anyone celebrating in the United States will find plenty of places specializing in Mexican cuisine.
There are numerous Cinco de Mayo recipes that make an appearance each year and the most popular by far are the chilaquiles, a Mexican take on lasagna with fried tortillas, chicken and tomatoes, and Plantain chips. Depending on where you travel in Mexico to celebrate—though most celebrations are in and around Puebla—you will find that each region has its own variation of cooking and spices. Some regions load their dishes with hot chiles and different peppers while other prefer a more bland approach to their cooking, just using a few herbs. Although the majority of Cinco de Mayo food tends to be hot and spicy, it’s nothing a cold beer or fresh margarita can’t fix.
When people think of Cinco de Mayo, the vision of tortilla chips and salsa, tacos and burritos comes to mind. However, outsiders are sometimes pleasantly surprised to see the variety of dishes that Mexico has to offer. You can find the majority of these Cinco de Mayo recipes available year-round at traditional eateries and international restaurants but somehow it just tastes better when you are celebrating the Mexican victory over the French. The fiestas for Cinco de Mayo are made up of all the traditional Mexican dishes like fresh guacamole and salsa, Tacos al Pastor, various beef and chicken dishes topped with Mole Poblano (hot sauce made with poblano chiles and unsweetened chocolate) or Mole Verde (traditional green sauce), and cueritos (fried pork skins).
Some more popular Cinco de Mayo recipes include more involved dishes, such as tamales. The Mexican tamale is a dough pastry filled with savory items, like meat and vegetables. The dish takes a while to prepare, as it must be steamed in a corn husk, but it’s well worth the effort if you are craving a hearty meal or just want to sample some of the best traditional Mexican dishes. Although it is usually served plain, many restaurants around the world are now topping the traditional dish with a sauce for a bit more flavor. Another popular Cinco de Mayo food is the Tres Leches Cake. The cake is a great choice for dessert at your celebration and uses three different kinds of milk: sweetened condensed, evaporated and heavy cream. The moist, dense cake has the consistency of custard and is a delicious choice to top off your fiesta.
Including much more than standard tortillas and tacos, Cinco de Mayo food is varied and exciting. Varying from Mexico and different cities around the US, there is a wide selection of recipes and foods to choose from. Whether you are sampling the local fare at a celebration in Mexico or at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the United States, be sure to expand your palate and try traditional dishes you might not experience otherwise.