I love an excuse for a party. I host a Cinco de Mayo party every year to celebrate the myriad culinary delights of Mexican cuisine.
Commonly mistaken as Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo is, in fact, a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war.
Without diving into a full history lesson, the victory at the Battle of Puebla is interesting because it was not a major strategic win in the grand scheme of things. The battle pitted a ragtag band of Mexican soldiers, comprised of only 2,000 men, against a well-organized military troop of 6,000 French.
Miraculously, the Mexicans, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza triumphed and fended off the French assault. With the odds stacked against them, the victory at the Battle of Puebla marked a major symbolic victory for the Mexican government and reinvigorated the resistance movement.
Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico but has been popularized in the United States as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.
I don’t have any Mexican heritage, to my knowledge, but I do have an appreciation for their distinct culinary tradition that is rich with regional diversity and achieves fantastic flavour through its use of native ingredients.
I have had the privilege of visiting Mexico on a number of occasions and never cease to be amazed by the way seemingly humble ingredients are transformed into complex, delectable dishes.
One of my favourite dining experiences of all-time was at Flora’s Field Kitchen in San José del Cabo. This true farm-to-table experience incorporates fresh produce, grown on-site, into plant-focused plates that will have you questioning whether you’ve ever had a tomato worth eating before that moment.
The dining experience is immeasurably enhanced by the stunning surrounds (pictured above), open-air architecture, live music and tasty tipples.
If you’re ever in Cabo, make a point of making a reservation at Flora’s Field Kitchen (months in advance), you won’t regret it. And no, this is not sponsored content, I’m just giving you my two cents.
Speaking of cocktails, let me tell you a little something about this one. The Italian Piñata is the first cousin of the classic Paloma cocktail, with a little Italian aperitivo thrown into the mix. The Aperol in this drink adds a touch of bitterness, but not as much as you would find with Campari, to balance the acidic tang of the grapefruit and the bold flavour of tequila.
Perfect for sipping on this Cinco de Mayo or all summer long. This recipe offers quantities to make one drink or to serve a crowd – all the more reason to throw a party!
Cinco de Mayo party plans? Serve this Italian Piñata cocktail that plays on the classic Paloma with the addition of a little Italian aperitivo, Aperol. Sweet, tangy, bitter and smoky, this drink hits all the right notes for summer sipping.
Add ingredients to an ice-filled glass. Stir. Garnish with lemon wheel and grapefruit wedge. Serve.
Combine grapefruit juice, tequila and Aperol in a punch bowl and squeeze in juice from lemon (you may need more or less lemon depending on the acidity of the grapefruit juice). Stir well to combine flavours, then add ice, soda and slices of grapefruit and lemon to garnish. Serves 6.
Recipe adapted from: Mott, Eshun. "Aperol Grapefruit Tequila Fizz." Food & Drink. Summer 2014.