Video: Tips for a fun and festive Cinco de Mayo >>
Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the Mexican revolution. Actually, it celebrates the 'Battalla de Puebla' or Battle of Puebla, which took place under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza on May 5, 1862.
Puebla was the 'little town that could', and did, overcome the French who were planning to occupy Mexico City and stage an invasion of Mexican politics and culture. Many historians say that after Mexico triumphed in this battle, Mexican nationalism and self-esteem began to grow perceptibly for the first time in history.
Mexican Mole Magic
The city of Puebla, about two hours south of Mexico City, is not only where the French were kicked out - it's a place where some fantastic flavors and dishes have kicked in! This town is home to the original Cinco de Mayo AND to the first mole sauce. A mole is a sauce which includes ground chiles, seeds, and sometimes nuts. Moles are quite unique: They are of differing consistencies; some are sweet, some are not; and they use a variety of chile peppers. The variety of possibilities offered by this delicious dish has to do with color, spices and seasoning and how they are combined and prepared.
As the legend goes, an order of nuns was asked to prepare a special dish for a visiting dignitary. Since they were unsure as to what kind of dish would be worthy of their guest, the nuns literally emptied out their pantry and filled a pot with a combination of herbs, spices and chocolate - over 30 ingredients in all! Left to simmer for several days, the resulting thick, sweet 'mole' sauce was served over turkey at the royal feast. Today, mole is most commonly served over chicken. Some say that the nuns are the best cooks in Mexico, and anyone who has ever tasted a good mole sauce would have to agree. So let your mouth do a dance along with your hands and feet at this year's Cinco de Maya fiesta. Make a quick Chicken Mole, then dance the 'delicioso' night away!
Another satisfying, sweet and savory treat that comes from Puebla is Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Chile Peppers). These roasted chile peppers come with a stuffing and sauce as delectable and sweet as the taste of victory was to the city of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo, 1862! Coffee is also grown in Puebla, and makes a great after dinner accompaniment to the area's many unique desserts, especially Camotes, a sweet potato confection. A Puebla party is nothing without pastries like Empanadas and desserts; pastry shops are as common in Puebla as churches, no small feat since there are said to be over 300 churches in the city center alone! Your meal is also likely to be more attractively presented in Puebla than anywhere else in Mexico, since this area is known for its 'azulejos' or glazed blue and white pottery and tiles.
If you're going to have a feast or a fiesta to commemorate this feisty town, you'll want to complete your mole magic, chile charm and camote caresses with THE Mexican edible accessory, Authentic Mexican Tortillas.
Ready to get your fiesta on? Get recipes, videos, and more in our ultimate guide to Cinco de Mayo!