Cinco de Mayo is a traditional Mexican holiday with a fascinating history—but perhaps even more interesting is the fact that it's now become more popular in the United States than in Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but it's primarily celebrated in Puebla, which is just one of Mexico's 31 states. So how did the holiday come to be such a large celebration in America?
After the Mexican Civil War in 1915, many Mexican people came to the United States and settled in the southern states. When they came to America, they brought with them their customs, traditions, and holidays—including Cinco de Mayo.
So the American people began celebrating Cinco de Mayo alongside their Mexican neighbors, but oftentimes they didn't really understand what they were celebrating; to them it was just a fun celebration of Mexican culture. Over the last hundred or so years, the holiday has taken off in America, with many people using it as an excuse to eat tacos and drink margaritas, rather than celebrating what the holiday actually stands for.
If you've celebrated this way in the past, don't sweat it: Take this as an opportunity to learn more about the history of the holiday and plan a more appropriate celebration this year.
1. Share the Real Story
Many Americans are quick to celebrate with tacos and margaritas without understanding the cultural significance of the holiday. Before partaking in any celebrations, take a few minutes to learn about the holiday and educate others you're celebrating with. "Changing stereotypes is something that we need help with, and if you do your part, we can share how awesome the truth behind Cinco de Mayo is," Sandoval says.
2. Support Mexican Businesses
While there are plenty of chain restaurants that offer Cinco de Mayo deals, Sandoval suggests supporting locally instead: Skip the Taco Bell drive-thru and order carry-out from a local Mexican-owned business in your area. "Whether it's your local Mexican Restaurant, or a local Mexican pottery store, supporting small business owners helps not just your local economy but it helps to support the Mexicans who's culture you enjoy celebrating," she says.
3. Support Mexican Arts and Museums
This holiday isn't just about the food! "So often we dismiss the value of true Mexican artesanías," Sandoval says. "If you have a local art gallery, museum, or artist, show up and support those artists and museums that are honoring Mexican history and culture." If you're not familiar with any in your area, a quick internet search can help you find local venues.
4. Eat the Food!
It's important to make sure you're celebrating Mexican heritage and not treating the day as just an excuse to go out for margaritas—but food is such a large part of the Mexican culture, that it can be one of the best (and tastiest!) ways to celebrate. Order carry-out at a local restaurant, or try making your own at home. Sandoval recommends Mole Poblano, a spicy and delicious traditional Mexican dish that originates from the city of Puebla, or Enchiladas Poblanas that are made with poblano chiles.
5. Create A Cinco De Mayo Playlist
Tune into the hottest Mexican musical artists using Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify. Find a playlist that already exists or create your own. This is a great way to have some seriously fun music in the background while also supporting Mexican musicians at the same time!
6. Set Out Some Festive Decor
Hang some papel picado, set up streamers, go crazy! There are plenty of ways to decorate your home for Cinco de Mayo while still respecting Mexican culture—Just think or do some research before you toss sombreros everywhere. If you’re looking for generally cheerful, colorful decorations, the Auihiay 32-Piece Fiesta Party Decorations Kit is a great option.
7. Cook Your Own Mexican-Inspired Recipe
If you’d rather create your own fiesta dishes, try out some classic Mexican-inspired recipes. This is a fun way to get in the kitchen and make a delicious meal that also celebrates Mexican culture. Try researching some authentic recipes, too, if you want to really lean into the day. You might be surprised just how much you love traditional Mexican cuisine.
8. Learn Some Traditional Mexican Dance Moves
Take some time—maybe while listening to that Cinco de Mayo playlist you just made—to learn some traditional Mexican dance moves. Jarabe Tapatío (the Mexican Hat Dance) or La Conquista (which narrates the story of the Spanish conquest) are good places to start. Or, if you’d rather just sit on your couch, you can always watch videos of the dances as well. We reccomend the Los Voladores de Papantla dance, where participants scale a 30-foot pole. (!!!)
9. Make A Margarita Bar
Break out the margarita glasses, some margarita mix, your fruits of choice and (of course) some tequila. Set out all the ingredients and let everyone in your household design their own ideal margarita. From strawberry and mango to pineapple and blueberry, there’s no limit to the fun combinations you can create for a night filled with margaritas. BTW, if you’re low on supplies, the Thoughtfully Skinny Margarita Set is the perfect all-in-one buy.
10. Have A Zoom Fiesta
If you don’t have people to celebrate with at home—or even if you do—gather your friends on a group Zoom call, set some fun Zoom backgrounds and have a margarita toast. You can play some fun music, create a Mexican-themed drinking game or just chat while eating Mexican food. Cinco de Mayo is better celebrated with others—even if it’s virtually.
11. DIY A Piñata
If you’re feeling a little crafty, why not try making your own piñata? You just need cardboard, poster board, tissue paper, glue and tape for this easy and fun DIY. Plus, once it’s created, you can fill it with candy and let everyone in your home take a stab at breaking it.
12. Learn About The History Of Cinco De Mayo
Take some time this Cinco de Mayo to learn about why it’s celebrated. Sure, this might not sound like a fun party activity, but it totally can be. You can create a trivia drinking game out of it or watch videos that explain the history in an entertaining way. Knowing the history behind Cinco de Mayo can help you celebrate the holiday in a thoughtful and educated way (that definitely still includes tequila).
Sources: Better Homes & Gardens by Emily VanSchmus March 4, 2021 and StyleCaster by Maggie Griswold April 30, 2020.
Right now even the most ardent cooks feel weary of their kitchens, so as we waded through this spring’s hundred or so new cookbooks, we were searching for inspiration. Below you’ll find the books that proved themselves in our kitchens—and got us excited to make dinner again. These 11 books have no-nonsense weeknight stuff and the decadent stuff of future meals with friends. There are superlative baked goods, flavorful dumplings, and a crème caramel for one. This list is the best of the season; we're sure there's a book here that will help every cook find fresh ideas to cook their way through this spring.
Bavel by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis, and Lesley Suter
Often chef’s cookbooks, while gorgeous, prove tricky and fussy for the home cook. Not so with Bavel, the latest cookbook by pastry chef and chef duo Genevieve Gergis and Ori Menashe. Bavel is based around the chefs’ Middle Eastern Los Angeles restaurant by the same name. Bavel the cookbook gets much of its strength from the family recipes dotted throughout, the ones that sustain the chefs in their busy day-to-day life. It’s hard to improve upon a simple roast chicken, but the Turmeric Chicken With Toum, conceived for an easy dinner party, might just edge out your fallback recipe. Crisp, turmeric-stained skin, juicy, yogurt-marinated meat, and a smear of garlicky toum, its bite softened by orange blossom water: this chicken somehow has it all.
Rodney Scott's World of BBQ by Rodney Scott
Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ—is a book that brings the sacrament of whole-hog barbecue down to earth. You would imagine that it might take a full book for Rodney Scott to teach someone to barbecue the way he does in Charleston, but Scott manages to do it in the 30 pages before the recipes start. A year ago, asking the average home cook to build a barbecue pit in their backyard might’ve seemed like too large an ask. But in the past year, many of us have conquered sourdough, mastered pickling, and tried out lamination. And the clear, inviting way in which Scott communicates his techniques will have you pricing out concrete blocks at the hardware store. Writing with a lifetime of experience behind him, Scott manages to make Carolina barbecue feel accessible to the weekend warrior.
To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon
Just make her miso-laced squash ramen or deliciously charred cabbage steaks and you’ll understand why this book is tops. McKinnon, who grew up in Australia to Chinese parents and now calls Brooklyn home, has a special knack for food that’s excellent for families, but isn’t anywhere near dull. The Buttery Miso Vegemite Noodles, all glossy and salty, get a sharp tang from a pile of grated cheddar cheese and come together in a minute. Lots of recipes are accompanied by plenty of options for toppings or fillings, key for anyone trying to feed a slew of demanding palates: for example, her jook has three optional vegetable garnishes with varying levels of spice, crunch, and savoriness, and McKinnon lays out a rainbow of dumpling fillings, which include combos like asparagus, mint, and feta, and lentil and cauliflower curry.
Ripe Figs by Yasmin Khan
Here is what Yasmin Khan does better than almost anyone: dive deep into the cuisine of a specific region of the world to create a compendium of recipes, stories, interviews, and stunning photos that transport you (with all five senses engaged) to that place. I know that sounds like a tall order—and even a little bit cliche—but somehow Khan manages to pull it off again and again, with depth, generosity, and a palpable love of listening and learning.
Cook Real Hawai'i by Sheldon Simeon
In this cookbook Simeon delves into Hawaii's oft-misunderstood cuisine, giving readers a peek into local garage parties and family barbecues. Hibachi chicken barbecue, charred fish sinigang, kimchi dip, and an entire poke primer—these dishes showcase the islands’ mixed cultures, ingredients, and cooking styles. I’ve already got a couple of dishes on repeat: the deeply savory Fried Garlic Noodles, seasoned with soy sauce and dashi powder, and the creamy, coconutty Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes, sprinkled with bonito flakes or bits of skipjack tuna jerky. Both of these dishes offer what feels like a key to the essential flavors of Hawaii.
Mother Grains by Roxana Jullapat
While there’s something in Mother Grains for the folks who’ve been ambitious about their sourdough since the early months of lockdown, what delights the most about this cookbook from renowned Los Angeles baker Roxana Jullapat is that it isn’t just for the hardcore. This book offers ways to deepen the flavor of many less-intensive baking projects, including waffles and pancakes, scones and cookies, cakes and muffins. It gives home bakers a taste of what’s been going on in many of the best bakeries lately, illustrating how diversifying your flour pantry and leaning on full-flavored grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat is a bit like switching from coloring with graphite pencil to painting with a rainbow palette. When the grains are great—like the nutty, creamy Sonora flour she has you use in her spectacular oatmeal cookies—baked goods can taste more cohesive and more intricate in flavor.
Cook This Book by Molly Baz
Cook This Book is a cookbook designed for the novice: Baz lists ingredients by category for logical grocery shopping, and fills the recipe margins with answers to questions she anticipated her readers might ask. That way, One-Pot Chicken and Schmaltzy Rice with Lemony Yog (Yog being yogurt; Baz loves “abbrevs”) is not just a deeply comforting weeknight dinner, it’s also a lesson on how to properly cook rice and crisp chicken skin. Baz’s style of cooking is an appealing mix of unfussy-but-inspired diner fare and cheffy-casual dishes you’d find at any hot, merch-and-orange-wine-selling restaurants. These are recipes you can’t help but like. Who can say no to a pasta salad with mortadella, burrata, castelvetrano olives, and pistachios?
Super Natural Simple by Heidi Swanson
This cookbook is full of dishes that look like spa food but pack more flavor (a hot pink dragon fruit and beet ‘party dip’, amped up with cayenne and citrus), tons of nourishing one-pot meals like the Roasted Chile Peanut Tofu, and lots of excellent, slightly earthy, not-too-sweet baked goods. Because Swanson’s Baked Oatmeal is a perennial Epi hit, I gave its spicier cousin, a Dirty Chai Baked Oatmeal, a go. Warming, complex, and just as good out of the freezer, it reminded me what I loved most about Swanson’s cooking: the fresh, complex flavors that aren’t fussy, the dishes that are sometimes pretty, sometimes (like my three shades of brown oatmeal) unassuming, but food that is always remarkably satisfying.
At Home in the Kitchen by David Kinch and Devin Fuller
In At Home, Kinch leans into simple home cooking as hard as he leans the other way at Manresa. Recipes often have no more than seven or eight ingredients. The chapter “All-Day Eggs + 2 a.m. Dinners” might as well be called Pandemic Dinners—it’s all fried fingerlings, puffy omelets, and crispy grilled cheese sandwiches. The next chapter, “Pasta + Rice,” provided me with a new favorite pantry pasta (sardines, capers, breadcrumbs, lemon). And in the seafood chapter—perhaps the most Californian in a very California-feeling book—a recipe for oven-roasted potatoes with cod spoke to my elemental cravings for well-browned spuds and just-cooked fish.
My Shanghai by Betty Liu
My Shanghai will guide you toward faithfully reproducing many favorites made famous by the restaurants and street vendors of the world’s largest city—and served in Shanghainese restaurants throughout the world. You’ll find fluffy-crispy pan-fried sheng jian bao and tender lion’s head meatballs made from hand-minced pork belly here, as well as the twisted knots of scallion flower buns and hot, fresh crullers for dunking in soy milk. But author Betty Liu emphasizes that the book is really focused on dishes meant to be prepared in home kitchens: She writes that My Shanghai is “a written record of recipes that had previously been passed down orally. These recipes are my family’s tradition.” It’s a refreshing focus, when so many cookbooks (often written by white authors) zoom way too far out, attempting to tackle all of China at once, and glossing over what makes each region special.
Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
The Nigella effect is undeniable. This is sensual, decadent, joyful food—and, is there not a better time for it. If the sound of meal prep, sheet-pan dinners, or batch cooking screeches on your ears in season forty-five of this pandemic, this is the book to fall into. Luxuriate in a simple and rich Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce, served with a gravy boat of extra cream (that’s equally good stirred into pasta or topped over otherwise chaste vegetables the next day). Finish it up with squidgy Black Forest Brownies, studded with kirsch-soaked cherries and hazelnuts. Whatever you do, don’t rush it. This is a book for a Sunday cook—or, even just a Sunday read, drink in hand, to inspire you for the eventual return of dinner parties.
Source: Epicurious by Lauren Joseph and the editor's of Epicurious, March 14, 2021.
CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2021!
Saint Patrick’s Day is Wednesday, March 17! Who was Saint Patrick? Why are shamrocks a symbol of this day? Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day history, legends, and lore.
Although the holiday originally started as a Christian feast day celebrating the life of St. Patrick and the spreading of Christianity to Ireland, today, it is a day of revelry and a celebration of all things Irish. Don’t forget to wear green!
WHEN IS ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
St. Patrick’s Day is officially observed on March 17 each year, though celebrations may not be limited to this date. The significance of March 17 is that it’s said to be the date of St. Patrick’s death in the late 5th century (circa A.D. 493).
WHO WAS ST. PATRICK? WAS HE A REAL PERSON?
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He is credited with successfully spreading Christianity throughout Ireland—hence the Christian celebration of his life and name.
Was There Really a St. Patrick?
Definitely. However, there are many legends about him that mix with the truth. Did he play a large role in spreading Christianity to Ireland? Yes, absolutely. Did he really drive all the snakes out of Ireland? Probably not, since snakes weren’t native to Ireland to begin with!
In any case, St. Patrick’s impact was significant enough to warrant our modern-day celebrations.
WHY IS THE SHAMROCK ASSOCIATED WITH ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
We wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because, legend says, St. Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity in his teachings. (The Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as three divine persons who are one divine being [God].) The truth of the St. Patrick legend, however, is in question, as there is no direct record that the saint actually used the shamrock as a teaching tool.
Note: The symbol of St. Patrick is a three-leaf shamrock, not a four-leaf clover. However, long before the shamrock became associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the four-leaf clover was regarded by ancient Celts as a charm against evil spirits. In the early 1900s, O. H. Benson, an Iowa school superintendent, came up with the idea of using a clover as the emblem for a newly founded agricultural club for children in his area. In 1911, the four-leaf clover was chosen as the emblem for the national club program, later named 4-H.
MORE ST. PATRICK’S DAY FACTS, FUN, AND FOLKLORE
“On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up,
and the broad-back goose begins to lay.”
ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES
Would you like to cook something special for St. Patrick’s Day? You don’t need the luck of the Irish! Check out our list of St. Patrick’s Day recipes for corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and more ideas beyond green milk and beer!
JOKE OF THE MONTH
Q: Why should you never iron a four-leaf clover?
A: You don’t want to press your luck!
How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments!
Source: The Editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac, Jan. 14, 2021
The best season of the year is finally here. And with summertime comes the need for some quick and easy summer dinner ideas to feed your crew so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time soaking up the sun with your family! Indulge in all that the summer has to offer by gathering around a table full of the best grilled chicken recipes, grilled vegetable recipes, and refreshing BBQ side dishes that aren't too heavy for the heat. From June through August, fill up on the season's finest with these family-friendly picks, which are quick, easy, and seriously delicious — plus, many of them store well as leftovers for later. Oh, and to top things off, might we recommend one of our favorite summer drink recipes too?
Barbecued Chicken With Roasted Corn Pudding This charred chicken and corn recipe makes for the quintessential summer dinner. Glass of rosé optional. Get the recipe for Barbecued Chicken with Roasted Corn Pudding »
Chicago-Style Chicken Dogs Sweet and spicy pickles and peppers make this barbecue favorite a real winner. Get the recipe for Chicago-Style Chicken Dogs »
Grilled Haloumi This protein-packed vegetarian salad stars haloumi, a salty Greek cheese that doesn't melt over high temps. Toss it on the grill, and mix together your fave veggies and grain and dinner's done! Get the recipe for Grilled Haloumi »
Steak With Grilled Green Beans, Fennel & Farro Fire up the grill to char green beans and steak for the ultimate summer dinner. Get the recipe for Steak with Grilled Green Beans, Fennel & Farro »
Grilled Chicken With Coconut-Lime Slaw Shake up your chicken routine with this easy weeknight dinner that will be on the table in just 20 minutes. Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken with Coconut-Lime Slaw »
Peach and Prosciutto Flatbreads Who knew everything you needed to make your pizzas taste wood-fired was already in your backyard? Fire up your grill to give these flatbreads a beautiful char. Get the recipe for Peach and Prosciutto Flatbreads »
Tomato, Peach & Basil Salad With Italian Sausage What more could you want in a fresh summer dish? This one has peaches, tomatoes, and basil. Get the recipe for Tomato, Peach & Basil Salad with Italian Sausage »
Summer Squash, Mint, and Pecorino Pasta Squash, mint, and lemon juice lighten up this fresh summer pasta made in under 30 minutes for the perfect weeknight meal. Get the recipe for Summer Squash, Mint, and Pecorino Pasta »
Summer Rolls Get the whole family involved in rolling these vegan finger foods. They make for the perfect light dinner, complete with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. Get the recipe for Summer Rolls »
Creamy Corn Pasta With Bacon and Scallions Brighten up weeknight pasta with corn, basil, and scallions to satisfy your summer comfort food cravings. Get the recipe for Creamy Corn Pasta with Bacon and Scallions »