It’s May 5th, Happy Cinco de Mayo, the celebration recognizing the Mexican victory of the Puebla over France. Few will inquire why we are actually celebrating such a holiday, but otherwise it gives us each the opportunity to have a little bit of Mexican in us for even one day, while being part of a celebration sharing some of the festive foods and drink inspired through this colorful and vibrant culture.
Mexican foods and those inspired have always held a special place in my heart, even beginning with my earliest memories while living in Texas as a very young child where we would cross the border on weekends to eat a meal at a local restaurant. Included in these earlier memories is an indescribable flavor, a scent, covered on top of a specially seasoned rice. Today I suspect it was a mole sauce and though I have sought it at times throughout my life, there is still nothing that can precisely match this particular flavor that ever remains ingrained in my memory. I still seek it today, and while I have never prepared a traditional mole sauce, for some reason, doing so is continually present at the back of my mind. I think it is probably fair to say that recreating this flavor is a part of my life’s bucket list, though perhaps its memory has become so grand in my mind I may in reality, lack the confidence in its attempt.
Living in Arizona for some years easily enabled a quick re- ignite appreciating Mexican foods and all of its Tex-Mex, or, Arizona-Mex, as I like to say, for my favorite inspiration is the Arizona style shredded beef chimichanga topped with sour cream and guacamole, which incidentally, I have yet to ever taste in its precise technique or flavor on the east coast. On this one though, well, like I recently shared with my dearest native Arizonan friend, Debby, I’m definitely feeling the spirit of a future visit coming on. This being said, there is one common Mexican style food that we can all recreate quite easily, the Taco, well, all but the exception that there are so many choices and bursting complementary flavors of ingredients it really is quite hard to decide, hence today’s Happy Cinco de Mayo Everything Taco!
You see how it goes. I initially decided to just prepare a simple taco. A fresh local taco corn tortilla. Some chopped smoked brisket cooked with the rub of some assorted Mexican spices, cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano. And then the dilemma begins. You see there was this little can of chile peppers in my pantry staring right out at me, hey, probably a foresight designed to stir through this chopped brisket.
OK. Keeping it simple. I then spread the smoked, seasoned, chopped brisket, with stirred through green chilies on top of the fresh local taco corn tortilla.
And then. Well then I thought to myself, it was Cinco de Mayo after all, got to have some re-fried beans, very traditional, and they do taste so good, one can sitting in wait on my pantry shelf just for this special purpose. Off goes the spiced, seasoned, brisket stirred with green chilies from the fresh, local taco corn tortilla.
O.K. now the smoked, seasoned beef brisket with the green chilies can go back on top of the grilled fresh local corn tortilla, topped with those traditional style refried beans.
And there is no such thing as a taco without the onions, not in my book anyway.
And we can’t forget the tomatoes, right?
Oh gosh. I remembered I had just picked up these lovely green tomatillos, boy would they be great.
But the tomatillos need a little spice and tang, so in they go to the mini food processor, that is, with the jalapeno pepper, another proper Mexican side, right? Add a little of that chopped red onion, salt, pepper, a touch of wine vinegar, some fresh lime juice. You’ve got to have the lime juice, right? Stir in some fresh chopped cilantro. Yes. You must have the cilantro too.
And then, wait. You remember the recent Rick Bayless show you saw on TV sharing one of his fabulous Mexican parties and realize you also have a papaya sitting in wait in the frig. Another perfectly complementary Mexican ingredient inspiration, to be sure.
Wait just a second now, the final couple musts, avocado, a dollop of sour cream, all topped with fresh grated cheese, O.K. now you’ve got the simple version of one completed Everything Taco!
A collaboration of colorful, beautiful, bursting of flavors, the contributions of a history, foods, of its people, those of Mexico, and those of us who for just one day can be a part of this culture in spirit. Happy Cinco de Mayo Day!
- Begin with one fresh local taco corn tortilla and top with any number of Mexican inspired ingredients, or otherwise: Mexican style spiced beef, chicken, fish, re-fried beans, black beans, green chilies, red onions, scallions, tomatoes, any type of lettuce green, tomatillo, jalapeno, avocado, cheese, cilantro, hot sauce, lime.
- Top tasty, colorful ingredients onto tortilla, soft or crisp, keeping in mind the challenge of fitting all of these delicious, heaped on ingredients into your mouth while holding it at the same time, the delicious inspirations and influences of Mexican food.