On May 5, 1862, a small town in east-central Mexico was attacked as part of Napoleon III’s effort to take over the country. The outnumbered Mexican army defeated the French forces in the Battle of Puebla. Though not a particularly strategic victory, its symbolism bolstered the Mexican resistance, which with American aid, finally eradicated the French in 1867.
Today, Cinco de Mayo, a relatively minor commemorative holiday in Mexico, is embraced in America as a full-on opportunity to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture. For some, that means (often too many) slushy margaritas and Tex-Mex food at the local cantina. For others, it is a good excuse to entertain and cook Mexican favorites.
Perhaps you want to try something a bit more authentically Mexican for a Cinco de Mayo dinner? If mole poblano (Mexico’s national dish) is a bit too labor-intensive, a guisado (a dish or main course), often a one-pot meal, has fewer ingredients and is less time-consuming but packs just as much flavor. Rajas con Crema (Charred Poblano Strips With Cream) and Tinga de Pollo (Chicken in Chipotle-Tomato Sauce) are two examples. (The rajas can be vegetarian if you swap vegetable stock for the chicken stock.) Also well-liked are aromatic Pozole Verde (Green Pozole) and earthy Frijoles Aztecas (Black Beans With Nopalitos). Serve these dishes with lots of condiments to offer contrasting textures and complementary flavors.