Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mole Poblano!

By Julia Burgi

This Mexican holiday is one of two Mexican Independence Days, the other on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the anniversary of the Mexican defeat of Napoleonic French forces on the 5th of May 1862 - an incredible feat if the supposed small size of the Mexican army relative to the French one is true!

The best way to show your appreciation for the men and women who struggled to keep Mexico free is, of course, to have grand parades and sumptuous feasts. Some of the popular parades even include creative reenactments of the battle. The players include valiant Mexican soldiers, their flower-laden female counterparts who took care of the troops, and French military with wine bottles sticking out of their knapsacks.

The colors of the Mexican flag, red, green, and white, can be seen everywhere in banners, flowers, and outfits. A favorite party import to America from Mexico, pia±atas, are everywhere for children to play with towards the end of the day. Pia±atas are vibrantly painted paper-mache shapes in the form of animals or toys that are filled with candy, which children get to by taking turns hitting the pia±ata with a bat. Yum!

In each the squares where the festivities are held around the country, street vendors line the edges to provide partyers with a wide variety of traditional Mexican foods. The quintessential food served, though, is the local version of Mole Poblano. This thick sauce, traditionally chocolate based, consists of up to 40 different spices and ingredients that differ from region to region. It is spread on top of chicken or turkey and served with spiced red rice.

For a fun night out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, plan dinner at one of the Mercadito restaurants. Mercadito has locations in Chicago, New York City, and Miami, so check it out if you're in the area.

How are you going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Photo: gsz on flickr