Cinco de Mayo is celebrated nationwide with tacos, burritos, and margaritas in honor of ... what exactly? Spoiler alert: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s day of independence (don’t worry, many get it confused). It actually marks the Battle of Puebla in honor of Mexico’s 1862 victory over Napoleon III’s French army. And the Battle of Puebla isn’t widely celebrated across Mexico itself.
But this isn’t a story about Cinco de Mayo. This is a story about Mexico’s actual independence day, which comes a few months after the infamous May holiday, on September 16. Día de la Independencia commemorates the anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spain on September 16, 1810.
Unlike the Battle of Puebla, Día de la Independencia is a national holiday in Mexico, celebrated with fireworks, dances, and reenactments of Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (aka Father Hidalgo) who made the first cry for Mexico’s independence, known as El Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores). Father Hidalgo made the rousing speech in the town of Dolores late at night on September 15, 1810 that set Mexico’s independence in motion.
And did we mention the holiday is celebrated with lots and lots of food?
It’s not a party without food and folks go all out for the movement that inspired Mexico to free themselves from Spanish rule. Friends and family gather the evening of September 15, known as La Noche Mexicana, with a commemorative feast. Many make tricolor red, white, and green versions of dishes. Think: Enchiladas with a salsa roja, a salsa verde, and a stripe of crema with a scattering of cotija. And there’s mucho mas. Here are seven dishes to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day.
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Whip up some enchiladas for el Día de la Independencia. Enchiladas are made by rolling corn tortillas around a filling, lining them in a dish, smothering them in a chile sauce, and cooking them all together in that sauce. Enchilar in Spanish means “to spice or season with chili." Enchiladas can be filled with chicken, beef or pork, or any number of vegetarian fillings. While red enchilada sauce is common there are also green enchiladas.
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With a name that translates to “molten cheese,” how could you not want to take a dip into spicy queso fundido? It's traditionally made with Asadero, Mennonite, Manchego, or Chihuahua cheeses. Our Tex-Mex queso dip melts Asadero with chopped peppers and spices, then gets a creamy boost from either Mexican crema or sour cream.
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Birria tacos are not just the trendy flavor of the week—they have been eaten for years in celebration of Independence Day. Birria originated in Jalisco, where it's most commonly made with goat meat, which stews with dried chiles and is served with the broth, called consomé. Birria de res, a version made with beef, has become popular throughout the U.S., and so have tacos made with the meat with tortillas soaked in the consomé. Quesabirrias are filled with Oaxacan cheese (quesillo), and served with cilantro, lime and white onion, plus a bowl of sauce for dipping.
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This gorgeous, comforting corn-based soup is bathed in a clear broth, brimming with crunchy garnishes like shredded cabbage and radishes. While traditional pozole requires nixmatalizing corn over several days for a beautiful result, this version of the delightfully chewy, meaty corn broth takes just a little over an hour. Try your hand at a basic white or plain pozole with chicken or pork.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Chill out a bit with a cooling agua fresca. This fruit and water based drink, typically made by pureeing, then straining the liquid from the fruit and adding a little water and lime juice. It’s perfect for sipping alongside your other festive hot and spicy dishes. Agua fresca can also be made from other botanicals and ingredients, like hibiscus flowers and rice. Popular variations of agua fresca are jamaica, tamarind, and the rice-based horchata. Play around with flavor combinations and colors.
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Tres Leches Cake
It is not a party without tres leches pastel, or three milks cake. This creamy, milk-soaked sponge cake is sweet, cooling, and moist. Despite being soaked in evaporated milk, canned sweetened condensed milk, and half-and-half or milk, it does not get soggy.