Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, (which is also my birthday!) is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day, which falls on Wednesday, May 5 in 2021, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.
Cinco de Mayo History
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, a popular misconception. Instead, it commemorates a single battle between Mexico and France.
The Battle of Puebla
Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either Indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.
Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France finally withdrew.
Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos, mole poblano and freshly made salsa.
Salsa is a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, served as a condiment with tacos, grilled fish, stirred into soups and stews, or incorporated into tamale fillings. Salsa fresca is fresh salsa made with tomatoes and hot peppers. Salsa verde is made with cooked tomatillos and is served as a dip or sauce for chilaquiles, enchiladas and other dishes. Chiltomate is a widely used base sauce made of tomatoes and chili’s. The type of pepper used for chiltomate varies by region, with fresh green chili’s being more common than habanero in Chiapas. Tamales are often identified according to the type of salsa they are filled with, either salsa verde, salsa roja, salsa de rajas or salsa de mole. Why don’t you try our Forever Oceans Kahala with freshly made Salsa Fresca this Cinco de Mayo.
Forever Oceans Kahala with Salsa Fresca
4x 6oz Forever Oceans Kahala fillets or Cod, Salmon, Halibut
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 avocado, stone removed, flesh roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 lime, zest and juice of
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
How to make:
Place a large frying pan on the stove over a medium high heat. Season the Kahala fillets with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, when hot add the Kahala fillets (you may have to cook them one at a time depending on the size of your pan). Cook for 3 minutes.
While the Kahala is cooking, make the salsa by add the remaining ingredients together, plus the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Turn over the Kahala and cook for another 3 minutes or until done to your liking. Remove from the pan and serve with the fresh salsa. Simple and delicious.
Mark William Allison
Corporate Executive Chef at Forever Oceans