Cinco de Mayo is a very popular holiday in Southern California, with major cities north of the border hosting public celebrations, and restaurants of all kinds offering Mexican food and drink specials. Most people born and raised in the United States know that Cinco de Mayo has something to do with Mexican independence, and that it’s synonymous with chips, salsa, and frosty pitchers of margaritas. In preparation for our company observance of Cinco de Mayo, we wanted to dig a bit deeper. Luckily, our Regulatory team member Leslie Cazarez, who grew up in Mexico, happily shared her favorite holiday food and flavor memories with us!
According to History.com, “Cinco de Mayo celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. 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.”
Leslie’s hometown of Atlixco is in the state of Puebla, so naturally Cinco de Mayo celebrations are a popular springtime event in the area. While Mexican Independence Day (celebrated September 16th) is widely considered to be the more important military holiday, Cinco de Mayo is still commemorated in Puebla with plenty of flair, fun, and flavor!
Leslie’s memories are filled with the energetic, vivid, and joyous spirit of Mexican fiesta. A major part of traditional Cinco de Mayo festivities are parades. “People gather along the main streets to watch the parade,” she recalls. “The parades are composed of mainly military people, students from schools in the town, some performances, and sometimes floats. My sister and I loved watching the parade when we were kids, but didn’t love it so much when we were old enough to be part of it and had to walk and march for hours across the city!”
The parade ends at a plaza or fairground where mariachis, folklorico dancers, and street performers entertain the public. Local vendors set up in the plaza offering traditional Mexican food, from freshly fried churros to refreshing jugs of horchata and fruit flavored aguas frescas. “Tacos, flautas, and elote are some of the most common foods enjoyed during Cinco de Mayo,” says Leslie. From her description, you can almost smell the enticing perfume of sweet cinnamon, roast meat, zesty lime, and earthy masa mixing like a molcajete in the warm spring air.
Blue Pacific is proud to have many Mexican-American team members who bring their rich culture and flavor heritage to the table. In recognition of Cinco de Mayo and Mexican culture, we are having a “snack fiesta” at work and sharing Leslie’s delicious recipe for elote (pronounced eh-low-tay). Commonly referred to in L.A. as “Mexican Street Corn,” this popular snack food is simply corn on the cob that is smothered in a mayonnaise, chile, and cotija cheese sauce. Sometimes elote is charred in a cast iron skillet or on the grill to give it a caramelized and smoky flavor, and sometimes it is seasoned with fresh cilantro and lime juice. However you make it, at its heart elote is a sweet and savory treat that is both easy to make and fun to eat.
According to Leslie, elote is to Mexican fiestas what corn dogs are to American fairs: a handheld “foodsicle” that is sweet, savory, and sometimes delightfully messy. In other words, finger licking good! Please enjoy this taste of Mexico and have a fun, festive, and safe Cinco de Mayo.
Leslie’s Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- 4 ears corn on the cob
- 5 – 6 epazote leaves (this is the secret ingredient, it is optional but highly recommended)
- 1 tsp butter
- Water (enough to cover the corn)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup finely grated cotija cheese
- 2 tsp chile powder (optional)
- 4 wood skewers, preferably with pointy edge
- Husk the ears of corn and remove silk. Snap off the ends, or shanks, and rinse.
- In a large pot, boil water and add epazote leaves, butter, and salt.
- Add ears of corn to the boiling water and boil until light yellow and fully cooked, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Using tongs, carefully remove the ears of corn from the pot and set aside.
- Still using the tongs, pick up one ear of corn and, with your other hand, grab it with a cloth or paper towel (to protect hands from heat and remove excess liquid). Insert pointy end of skewer into the base of the corn. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.
- Spread the mayonnaise on each ear of corn until fully covered.
- Sprinkle each ear of corn with 1/4 cup cotija cheese, turning the corn to coat all sides evenly.
- If desired, sprinkle with chile powder before serving. Enjoy piping hot!
Yield: 4 servings
For more tips and techniques for making elote, and exciting recipe variations, visit diethood.com.
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