Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo & Why all the Hoop-la?

For perplexed Cinco de Mayo celebrants & shrimp lovers I offer some South of the Border explanations.

The first year lived in Mexico I asked my Spanish teacher about how people celebrated Cinco de Mayo in Mexico? I seriously thought people strung up those Jose Cuervo banners I saw at home in all the Tex-Mex restaurants & had one day long extravaganza! I mean why not?? Back in the states it's a day of culture & foods. I'd already seen how they threw parties for Diez y Sies & other big events. I was quite surprised to find out that the celebration is called Cinco de Mayo but hardly rates a blip on the radar across most of Mexico. As we leave Mexico soon I have to wonder if I'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo next year in the Estados Unidos with a different appreciation for the event?

The state of Puebla recognizes the day but it's not a national holiday throughout Mexico. The day actually celebrates the Battle of Puebla when the French under estimated how the Mexicans were seriously fed up with & quite angered concerning French expansion on Mexican soil. It took Mexico several more battles albiet years to clear out foreign intervention in Mexico. The real hero of the Battle of Puebla was a young General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Texans may recognize the name Zaragoza as he was born in near the town of present day Goliad Texas. Ignacio Zaragoza moved from Goliad to Monterrey, entered a Seminary then later joined the Mexican Army. There he rose through the ranks & actually fought for reestablishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico & defeated the dictator Santa Anna. (I knew there was a reason I liked this historical personage!) General Ignacio Zaragoza died after contracting Malaria & dying at the youthful age of 33. So when you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States just remember this true hero of Cinco de Mayo. My tribute to General Zaragoza involves giving some South of the Border flair to a standard Thai dish. All Texans know that premium shrimp can be found in the Gulf. The shrimp I cooked for Cinco de Mayo are from the state of Veracruz & of course the Gulfo de Mexico! Feliz Cinco de Mayo~

Our dinner menu featured Drunken Noodles with 2 Different Chilies (which I am sending onto Girlichef for her Chili Pepper Challenge) & Krupek/Shrimp crackers sprinkled with Tajin, a Mexican Lime & chili seasoning~

Cinco de Mayo Drunken Noodles

16 oz wide Thai rice noodles
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 Red Bell pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Bell pepper, sliced
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb raw, peeled shrimp
1 can baby corn, drained & halved
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
fresh basil leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
fresh cilantro leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
3-4 Chilis Arbol*
oil for cooking
1 large or 2 small limes for juicing in sauce and garnish

Sauce Ingredients:
6 TB Oyster sauce
3 TB rice vinegar
2-3 TB fish sauce
3 TB sugar
3 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB Ground Chipotle Chilis (ground chiles processed or blended into paste)

Start noodles & have boiled & ready to add to dish since the veggies & shrimp come together quickly. Keep them in water so they don't stick together.
Saute onion, garlic & peppers in 2 Tbsp. Oil in large skillet. When the veggies are still crisp add the Chilis Arbol, Shrimp & cook till just pink but not over cooked. Add in the drained baby corn & water chestnuts. Drain the noodles & add them into the skillet, toss the shrimp, veggies & add sauce, stir well enough to blend the sauce over the mixture. The noodles are now drunken with the sauce, add basil, cilantro & serve with limes.
*Chilis Arbol are thin skinny Mexican Chilis the size of a small finger. Leave them whole when cooking with them. It makes it easier for a non-Chili lover to pick them out!


Chef E said...

What a beautful dish! Shhhh, I prefer to go out for Asian like this, and I am placing my order now :)

I see you now on my reader, so *clink* here is to blogger.com

Happiness is two friends sharing a plate of pasta over shots of tequila, lol Remember Peanuts cartoons!

Oh, and did you hear? I am coming to Texas for three weeks in June. Figure if I am coming I am taking the slow months off in style!

girlichef said...

This sounds delicious! I'm glad you threw the history of Cinco de Mayo in here, I wanted to do a post of it, too but just got so busy! Thanks for joing in the "challenge" (when u get a moment, could email me a link to this post w/ photo attached...just to make it easier to deal w/ in the roundup?? girlichef at yahoo dot com). Thanks Dee! :)

Donna-FFW said...

Love the historical part of this post, but this dish is the star. It looks absolutely fantastic.I love all the flavors with the shrimp, and its so pretty too.

Dee said...

Chef E~Thanks, Thai is pretty good stuff, why did it take me so long to discover it? ha! If you travel down to Austin in June give me & Hornsfan a shout! We'd love to meet you!
Girlichef~thanks, I will do it just now & the 5th de Mayo recipe was a no brainer for me since I wanted to have a reason to celebrate & no one was doing it here in Northern Mexico.
Donna~so glad you liked enjoyed it. I'm just a bit nerdy about the history stuff, ha!

Reeni♥ said...

I think we(Americans) are always looking for a reason to party. It was nice to hear something different about the history behind the day. Your drunken noodles look really good! So spicy and flavorful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the history of Cinco de Mayo and the drunken noodles look so delicious with the chiles! Love this recipe!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I was planning to do a Cinco de Mayo post yesterday (didn't do it) and was researching the history of the holiday, but didn't find any of the info you've presented. Very interesting. Is Seguin, TX named after General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin?

Chef E said...

I have been busy and behind, but I am linking this post with my own Chili Rub for Girliechef's challenge, and my belated Cinco de mayo post tomorrow!

Dee said...

Reeni~the Mexicans like a good party too but this battle was one of many & I guess they can't celebrate them all. I am glad we have used it as an excuse for great Mexican food & Culture! Thank you.
5 Star Foodie~Thank you!
Gloria~Seguin TX is actually named for Juan Seguin who fought in the Texas Revolution, he was sent out as a courier before the Battle of the Alamo but then fought at San Jacinto & was even once mayor of San Antonio.
Chef E~Excited & thanks for the link, I'm checking on that asap!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Dee, you are so lucky to live close to the gulf. Here in El Paso, we've come to be leary of the freshness of the seafood we find in our markets. The recipe looks and sounds delicious. Have a lovely weekend.

Tangled Noodle said...

Love how you re-interpreted Thai to make a Mexican-flavored dish: that's what I call multiculturalism! Thank you for the information regarding Cinco de Mayo. I'd love to find out how it did get its start in the US; in many cases, certain traditions, customs and foods that may be relatively minor in their place of origin become a way for immigrants to maintain a sense of identity when they migrate into a new culture. I wonder if this might be the case with Cinco de Mayo?

Hornsfan said...

One of my favorite go-to dishes!

Chef Fresco said...

You actually live in Mexico? I'm so jealous! I went there last year and loved it! You definitely have an authentic Cinco meal!

Ziho said...

MMMMMM Yummi!!!

We celebrate May 5th as..."La Batalla de Puebla"

Ziho said...

Ups, I have read more about you and now I realize that you live in Monterrey, Mexico where I am from!

Nice pics at Marco Museum!