I can’t think of Cinco de Mayo without thinking of high school Spanish class.
While I primarily remember watching clips of Selena every Friday, the other important lesson I learned in the class was that Cinco de Mayo is in fact not the most important national holiday in Mexico that we make it out to be. Instead of celebrating the day in May that commemorates a victorious battle over the French, Mexico calls the sixteenth of September their national independence day, the first day of their war for independence from the Spanish.
But Cinco de Mayo is far easier to pronounce than Dieciseis de Septiembre for gringos, so we have adopted the fifth of May as the holiday to indulge in Mexican culture.
This beauty of a beast is called a molcajete. It’s a large mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock that is used in Mexican cuisine. It is a monster and weighs about as much as our Golden Retriever, but it also makes a mean batch of guacamole.
It was gifted to me by Kevin’s sweet Uncle Mike. He’s fluent in Spanish and is a paramour of Latin culture. With Uncle Mike, Easter is amplified by egg-shaped pinatas and confetti-filled cascarones, and expeditions to El Salvadorian restaurants take on a whole new life and vigor.
Cards on the table, the giant volcanic rock sat on the top of our refrigerator for about 8 months before I worked up the nerve to use it. Uncle Mike instructed that I could grind out the flaky bits of rock with dry rice (which Google quickly reaffirmed), then I could use it to make a mean salsa.
Then a wormhole venture down Wikipedia led me to guacamole… Which, according to almighty Wikipedia, is traditionally made with a MOLCAJETE.
What a win. Thank you, Uncle Mike. You’ve given us the best guacamole we’ve ever tasted.
I don’t know what it is… Maybe it’s the teeny tiny fragments of cooled lava that find their way into the mashed avocados? Or perhaps the shmancy, rustic mortar and pestle create a paste of onion, garlic, and serrano that simply outdoes the competition… Maybe it’s just presenting it in a big ass rock that makes it in turn taste amazing.
Might be the latter, I dunno.
Regardless, it’s the best guacamole we’ve ever made OR tasted. We fortified the spice with two serrano peppers, the bite of red onion instead of white, sweet tomatoes, and almost too much lime.
The boy would like it to be known you can never have too much lime.
While I’m 99.9% sure our molcajete was born and bred in Mexico and was carefully chiseled by a seventh generation artisan, these are also quite easy to find in any local kitchen supply store. Costco was selling some across from their on-sale lawn furniture this weekend, sooooo….
It’s creamy, spicy, savory, and utterly satisfying. Pair it with a stout margarita, some fresh tortilla chips, and maybe some sunshine, then celebrate Cinco de Mayo like an American.
And when the sixteenth of September rolls around we’ll make something else with deep Mexican roots. Let me check with Uncle Mike as to what it should be and I’ll get back to you.