Feliz Cinco de Mayo, mis amigos!
Wait, that’s not right. Oh well. Hola!
I just made that greeting up. But it happens to be in the spirit of America’s annual celebration of the day, which is more of an excuse to celebrate Mexican culture (and sell beer) than it is of the official Mexican Independence Day (that would be September 16th). So what is the importance of the fifth of May? Well, it is the celebration of the 1862 Mexican victory over the invading French army at the Battle of Puebla. Napoleon Bonaparte III, the then-ruler of France, had hoped to use Mexico’s debt as a pretense to expand the French empire. He would send troops to Mexico again a year later, with a larger army, this time defeating the Mexicans and installing Napoleon’s relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as the ruler of Mexico. It wasn’t until 1867 that Mexicans, with military and political help from a newly not-at-civil-war United States, ousted Maximilian once and for all. (His bullet-ridden shirt still hangs on display at the museum in Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The thought makes me squirm.)
So in modern Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is more of a regional holiday, with festivities varying in intensity from state to state, and the most In the U.S., it’s a chance for Mexican Americans to revel in and honor their culture, food, history, and pride, while also imparting a little bit of their history on new generations, global and Mexican alike.
Avocado Across the Border
With today’s celebration in mind, though, let’s talk avocado.
Thanks to a surprisingly useful NYTimes.com header ad this weekend, I stumbled upon The Amazing Avocado, a website devoted to promoting “Avocados from Mexico.” They even have a Public Service Announcement with Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper‘s Holly Robinson Peete! And a clip from The Biggest Loser featuring turkey sandwiches with “50-calorie per ounce” slices of avocado! (Did I show my age and 90s/TGIF kid nerdiness with that Mr. Cooper reference? But really, that was pretty much the last popular show Peete was on. Then she got married and focused on family and random appearances on UPN/My9 shows.)
While avocados, colloquially referred to as alligator pears because of its shape and rough skin, have their origins south of the border, in recent decades, the popularity of the fruit (or is it vegetable?) in the U.S.’ gourmet food market has led to its growth as a strong export out of California and Florida’s sun-kissed soil. The main type of avocado exported and eaten is Hass avocados, which actually come in several shapes, sizes, and textures. Besides being delicious sources of “good” cholesterol (HDL, or high-density lipoprotein) with blood vessel cleaning superpowers, they’re also full of vitamins and minerals (and check out Nutrition.gov and FamilyDoctor.org’s vitamin –> food list.
Since I don’t have any avocado, black beans, chili peppers or anything else resembling Mexican-inspired food except for arborio rice, jarred salsa, and whole wheat tortillas, I decided to just make a hearty breakfast. Here’s the money shot:
This was a fun breakfast/brunch to make. Two large eggs from Knoll Krest Farm, the last of my over-a-month-old fingerling potatoes, nuked TJ’s Italian sausage-less sausages (I don’t care for Smart Dogs), ketchup, a sprinkling of salt, and a little salad of diced ramp leaves with TJ’s Tuscan Italian dressing w/ balsamic vinegar, all took me under 15 minutes to make, and that was only because I let the potatoes boil for about 10 minutes. Delish!
To me, farm fresh and local are the only way to go for eggs, and I’m always looking for new ways to jazz it up. Since I’m too lazy to thaw out the block of mozzarella in the freezer and I forgot about the salsa, I went for the little spare ketchup packets laying around and those did the trick. As for the ramps, I’ve been going at them for a week now and finally decided to try it as a salad instead of thrown into the pot to cook with other ingredients. So far, I think salad is the best way to make sure these tangy beauties don’t spoil.
How about you, dear readers? What are your Cinco de Mayo plans? People watching at the bar? Full on fiesta? Or, as some college friends decided to do four years ago in senior year, throw a combo of the two: “Drinko de Mayo?”