Cinco de Mayo

May 1, 2011

This is your public service reminder that Cinco de Mayo is coming up this week. Here in Michigan our hold on Cinco de Mayo is a little tenuous, despite a fairly extensive Mexican population. I’ll certainly go out and drink a Corona con lima. If you’re in need of a little more inspiration for falling in with me on that, you can catch a You Tube video of Gary P. Nunn right here.

Cinco de Mayo is not, as I once foolishly thought, Mexico’s independence day. It is instead a regional holiday around the Puebla area of Mexico, but it has become ridiculously popular among los Nortenõs who are looking for an excuse to drink a beer and eat some nachos. Which is why I’m offering this public service announcement in the Thornapple blog.

Cinco de Mayo also features prominently in one of the great food songs of all time, written and performed by Trout Fishing in America. This is an under-appreciated duo in our neck of the woods, so if you are of the Northern persuasion, do yourself a big favor and download this particular number on i-tunes.  The song is “Pico de Gallo” and again in the spirit of public service, I quote the key verse:

It was Cinco de Mayo

And I was down on the Bayeux

With my good friend, Venus de Milo.

We we were watching Hawaii Five-O

She said “I want some pie-o”

“Or maybe some french fry-o”

But I said “Why oh why-o?”

We got pico de gallo.

The song handily includes a recipe for pico, which is idiotically simple to make. Onions, lime juice, jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, and tomatillo. Definitely has that “oh” thing going, don’t it? But just chop it coarsely, mix and let it sit for 15 minutes. The proportions are open to interpretation and improvisation. It’s tasty even with the sub-standard hothouse tomatoes we get here in Michigan about this time of the year. And then we have to put up with our substandard chips, too, but Tostitos Restaurant style, a cold Corona and a bowl of homemade pico can almost make one forget about the heinousness of the industrial food system. And it may hit 60 here in Lansing this week!

Get off your butts this Thursday and get munchin’, hombres.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State Univesity


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