By Brooklyn Aguirre
September 16 is Mexican Independence Day and it is a day of celebration, revelry and patriotism. It is also a day in which Mexicans and Mexican-Americans alike take pride in their culture and history and of course, indulge in traditional food and drink.
The biggest misconception about Mexican Independence Day is that it is on May 5, or Cinco de Mayo. Although Cinco de Mayo is a fun and kitschy way to celebrate all things Mexi, it is NOT Independence Day! Mexican Independence Day is celebrated at midnight on September 16th when the current president of Mexico rings a bell three times and recants the declaration or “El Grito” of Independence, which is followed by several chants of “Viva México!. Being that I am Mexican-American, my mom and I always make it a point to watch the broadcast together, bonded by our sense of pride for a country that we weren’t born in, but still very much culturally bound to.
If you have never experienced a Mexican Independence Day celebration, I suggest that you make your foray into the festivities this year by creating the delicious and patriotic dish, Chiles en Nogada. If the warm and savory scent of the roasting poblano peppers wafting through your kitchen isn’t enough of a reason for you to dive into this recipe, the beautiful marriage of flavors and textures will seal the deal. This dish is significant to the Mexican Independence celebration because it includes all of the colors of the “tricolor,” or the three colors of the Mexican flag; the green chile poblanos, the white walnut sauce and the red pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.
In addition to this culinary delight, a true Mexican celebration would be incomplete without tequila or mezcal. If you are unfamiliar with mezcal, it is a distilled alcohol made from the agave plant. It imparts a smoky, sexy flavor that permeates all of your senses.
I prefer a legit version of a Mexican margarita called a Paloma. It’s a refreshing mix of tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. Or if you are a purist, a shot glass of your favorite mezcal or tequila (for sipping, not shooting) paired with a spicy sangrita will do the trick.
Happy Mexican Independence Day, everyone!