Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching so we all need to up our game and move beyond tacos and burritos as a celebration of Central and South American cuisine. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico to commemorate the victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. It is not the day that marks their independence as a nation, that’s September 16th. Rather, it celebrates the Mexican Resistance’s victory over a superior French force backed by Napoleon. It’s a symbolic victory and not even a National Holiday in Mexico.
The day has since been hijacked by the alcohol industry as a ploy to celebrate Hispanic culture outside of Mexico. Mexican culture is so much more that cerveza (beer) and margaritas. There is a diverse cuisine that has regional flavours and techniques suited to their climatic conditions. A vibrant street food scene has been taken by their chefs to the world of haute cuisine with three restaurants in the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants serving Mexican food.
Pati Jinich, Mexico’s version of Jamie Oliver, says that everyone needs to have their own version of Tortilla Soup. I agree. I discovered this dish more than 20 years ago when I was living in South Florida, USA. It’s a great way to make use of leftover tortillas and tomatoes that have ripened from salad to cooking stage. It’s a light soup that has the ability to be refreshing on a summer evening and warming for a winter’s lunch.