Though Americans enjoy celebrating Cinco de Mayo, in Mexico the holiday is primarily limited to the state of Puebla.
It was in Puebla where General Ignacio Zaragoza led a heavily outnumbered militia to an unlikely victory over French forces on May 5, 1862. The French, who helped Mexico gain its independence from Spain, had hoped to increase its empire by invading Mexico.
Though many Americans might be unaware of the history surrounding Cinco de Mayo, in America it remains a popular day of celebration.
For those hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration this year, consider the following recipe for "Mexican Gazpacho" from "Easy Entertaining," (Ryland, Peters & Small).
Mexican Gazpacho Soup
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
4 cups fresh tomato juice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, pan-toasted
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
1 ripe avocado, cut in half and pitted
Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
Freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves set in ice cubes, or chopped cilantro, to serve
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with the salt until well mashed. Put the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, and onion in a bowl, add the mashed garlic, and mix well.
Transfer half of the mixture to a food processor and pulse until chopped but still slightly chunky, and then scoop it into a bowl. Spoon the remaining mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add this to the chunky mixture in the bowl. Mix in the tomato juice, cumin, chili powder, and pepper, to taste.
Chill in the refrigerator for several hours until very cold, or overnight. If short of time, put the soup in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Cut the avocado into small cubes, toss in the lime juice until well coated, then stir into the chilled gazpacho.
To serve, ladle the soup into chilled bowls, then add a few cilantro-leaf ice cubes or sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!