Pan de Muerto ~ Bread of the Dead

H6Being from a Greek family, I have always grown up celebrating both American holidays and Greek traditions. At New Year’s we count down to midnight and pop confetti, but we also bless the Greek vasilopita (New Year’s bread) with branches from the Christmas tree. At Easter time we hunt for Easter eggs, and when it’s Greek Easter we say “Chistos anesti” (Christ has risen) and crack dyed Easter eggs with one another.  We always sing “Happy Birthday” in English and in Greek, and we celebrate our Name/Saint Days, which are kind of like a second birthday.

So, one thing I love about being married to a man from Mexico is incorporating all of his traditions with my American and Greek ones. I like to dress in green, white, and red when it’s Independence Day (September 16th) or  wear red or yellow underwear at New Year’s for love and prosperity. And, I truly love incorporating El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) into our year’s ritual.
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Salsa Verde de Pepitas ~ Green Pumpkin Seed Salsa

Salsa Verde de Pepitas (5)When a salsa is creamy, my immediate thought is that it contains milk or even avocado, but this salsa contains neither. The secret to its silky texture is the pumpkin seeds. When they are pureed, they create a velvety sauce that is fresh in flavor thanks to the jalapeños and cilantro.

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Tacos de Carnitas ~ Pulled Pork Tacos

Carnitas (H2)There’s nothing I love more than a summer gathering with good weather, good company, and good food. Karla, of Mexican Food Memories, is compiling a Cooking Comadres Summer Menu that includes a list of Mexican-inspired recipes for your next barbecue.

Where I come from barbecues are all about hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob and watermelon, but recently the younger generation (i.e. my brothers, cousins, and I) have been sneaking in some more ethnic, fusion-like recipes, and quite honestly I haven’t heard anyone complain. In fact, I think these carnitas are becoming a standard favorite just like those hamburgers.
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Paletas de Piña Caramelizada con Crema ~ Caramelized Pineapple and Cream Popsicles

Paletas de Piña Caramelizada con Crema (H2)Summer has always been my favorite season. It must be my Mediterranean blood because I couldn’t live without sunshine, summer breezes, fresh veggies from the garden, or warm weather. Summer also means barbecues with family and friends, long, lazy days, open windows, the sound of thunderstorms, and cool treats.

This week, Lola of Lola’s Cocina is kicking off the summer season with #PaletaWeek. Paletas are the Mexican version of popsicles, but paletas are so much more than overly sweetened frozen water. Paletas contain chunks of fresh fruit and they come in hundreds of tropical flavors.
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Piloncillo Cookies with Mexican Chocolate ~ Galletas de Piloncillo con Chocolate Mexicano

Piloncillo Cookies with Mexican Chocolate (2)When I lived in Mexico, I quickly learned that I did not have access to many of the ingredients I grew up using. I had trouble finding foods like cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, chocolate chips, and brown sugar. I wanted to be able to share many of the American foods that I knew so well, but without the right ingredients, I couldn’t make them for my Mexican friends and neighbors.
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Margarita de Vainilla y Piloncillo ~ Vanilla Bean Piloncillo Margarita

Vanilla Bean Piloncillo Margarita (H)Cinco de Mayo is coming up this week, and Kate over at ¡Hola! Jalapeño is hosting a margarita roundup to celebrate!

As a Spanish teacher, I have always had mixed feelings about this holiday because so many students think it is a celebration of Mexico’s independence. However, Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th! Cinco de Mayo is nothing more than a battle that was fought by the Mexicans against the French in the city of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, it’s not really celebrated beyond the city of Puebla! So, how did this holiday become so important in the U.S.?

Well, it’s important to recognize the history behind the Battle of Puebla. It occurred on May 5, 1862. At this time, the U.S. was in the midst of its Civil War, and Mexico was defending its freedom from the French who had invaded. The French, who were led by Napoleon III, planned to occupy and control Mexico in order to offer aid to the U.S. Confederate Army. The Confederacy wanted France’s help in order to beat the Union Army. At this point in history, France had one of the strongest armies in the world.

On the morning of May 5th, the French army attacked the Mexicans at Puebla, a city located not very far from Mexico’s capital. The French expected an easy victory in hopes of reaching and controlling Mexico City quickly. The Mexican army, led by Ignacio Zaragoza, was very small and poorly equipped compared to its French counterparts. In fact, the army was mainly made up of campesinos or farmers who had nothing more than machetes as weapons. Amazingly, that small but mighty Mexican army beat the French that day at Puebla and in turn stopped the French from coming to the Confederacy’s aid. The Union was able to gain strength and eventually defeat the Confederates. Thanks to its southern neighbor, the U.S. was once again unified and free of slavery, and Mexico preserved its freedom.

Following the war, Latinos in California gave speeches every Cinco de Mayo to remind people of how the Battle of Puebla helped bring about abolition. These speeches turned into parades, and as more Mexicans migrated to the U.S., they joined in the celebrations. Over time, Cinco de Mayo became a way to recognize and honor Mexican ethnicity, and so this is why the holiday is celebrated in the U.S. more than it is in Mexico. It is very similar to how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated more by Irish living in the U.S. than those living in Ireland. Continue reading