Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, and quite honestly it’s really hard to celebrate this holiday (and others like it) without thinking about food.
Granted, there are a few caveats I need to make from the start:
First, Cinco de Mayo (or the 5th of May) is not Mexico’s Independence Day (a common misinterpretation). It’s actually a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. That’s a mouthful, I know. But I think it is good to know that Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, while in the United States it has morphed into a full-blown commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage.
That being said, Cinco de Mayo is usually an adult celebration, in which lots of tacos and margaritas are involved. My traditional Latina friends are probably rolling their eyes right now because, just like you wouldn’t find corned beef and green beer in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, you really wouldn’t see ground beef tacos, nachos or margaritas in Mexico on May 5th. Nevertheless, there you have it.
Now, those caveats aside, I still know a lot of mommas that do want to expose their kids to this holiday, and for good reason. As I’ve shared in a past article for AMB, exposing your children to cultural holidays is one way to develop their cultural sensitivities. This includes learning about different people groups, languages, and even palettes.
That being said, what better way to start your cultural adventure with Cinco de Mayo than with trying out some fun, Mexican kid-friendly foods? Here’s some ideas to get you going:
1. Chips, Salsa and Guacamole:
Ok, so technically this would be an appetizer. But I’m never quite sure how many American kids have actually tried authentic chips, salsa , and guacamole. You could either make it from scratch with this recipe here OR pick some up from Fiesta (not HEB…and definitely not Whole Foods) OR pick some up from one of the local Mexican restaurants and/or food trucks that I suggest below.
2. Quesadillas, Beans and Rice:
Quesadillas are pretty much the Mexican version of grilled cheese. It’s hard not to like this food. If you are feeling super energetic, you could try making it from scratch with this recipe (but make sure to use real Mexican cheese, like queso Oaxaca, which can be found at any traditional Mexican store)! However, placing a bunch of cheese between two tortillas and warming it up in a pan works just fine too.
3. Flautas From a Traditional Mexican Restaurant:
I’m not talking about Mi Madres or getting a taco at Haymaker. You need to go to a restaurant where the menu is more in Spanish than in English. My top suggestion is Taquerias Arandinas. They have great Mexican food for a good price. Your kids will love the Flautas there.
4. Aguas Frescas at a Real, Mexican Food Truck:
My favorite would be Taqueria Veracruz. Your child could try any of the items I’ve listed above. But also make sure to drink an Aguas Frescas (or fresh water). It’s basically water that’s been flavored with fresh fruit, and they come in all sorts of flavors, from strawberry and watermelon to pineapple and mango. My 2-year old LOVES them.
5. Piñata with Mexican Candy:
Last but not least, you can’t have a Mexican party without a piñata. Go to Fiesta or a Michoacana to buy a good one. Then fill it up with spicy Mexican candy. Weird, right? Well, if you’re wanting to be culturally-sensitive, I feel like you’ve got to take the plunge into this unique part of Mexican culture at least once. Here’s a list to look at for suggestions, but anything that says Vero Mango or Vero Rebanaditas is a good bet.
Good luck! I’d love to hear what you try and how it went!