Did you know that Cinco de Mayo doesn’t celebrate Mexico’s independence, but rather a victory over the French who wanted to recolonize the area? I didn’t either, but with it being Cinco de Mayo, we figured this week was a good one for a Mexican date night. Plus, I have recently booked trips to Mexico for back to back weekends in October if the world is open by then, one to Guadalajara with A, and one to Mexico City – one of my favorite places on Earth – with my aunt. So let’s start the fiesta!
Mexico-Themed Date Night
Eat: Enchiladas and Sopapilla Cheesecake
I’ve been a pretty good home cook for a while, and was even a contestant on MasterChef a number of years back. (No, I didn’t win. I voluntarily quit in the middle. It wasn’t a great experience but Gordon Ramsey liked my food, so that’s something.) But I have never made enchiladas that I’ve liked. Maybe it was because I used tomato sauce as the base, or didn’t properly toast my corn tortillas, or put too much cheese inside – blasphemy, I know! Regardless the reason, it’s been a failing and something I wanted to rectify.
My enchiladas were filled with a mix of spinach, ricotta, jack, and sour cream, seasoned with garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika. I toasted the corn tortillas (this is key so they don’t fall apart) in a dry pan, stuffed and rolled them, then let them sit for about thirty minutes in the sauce before baking. The sauce I decided to make this time was a flour and oil roux, chicken stock, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, garlic, and chili powder, and it came together wonderfully!
Mmm… enchilada-y goodness…
As always, A made dessert, this time her personal take on a sopapilla, a sort of donut with cinnamon and sugar. She rolled out puff pastry and made a cheesecake mixture that she layered between the sheets, along with a bit of leftover dulce de leche from last week’s Argentina night. It was amazing, as all her desserts are!
Sopapilla cheesecake with dulce de leche!
We also had black beans and rice, and A made margaritas.
Learn: Mexican History
Huzzah for the dinner documentary! This one was filled with fun facts like the above about Cinco de Mayo, sarcastic quips, cute animation, and chuckles from us. I figure if I retain even one factoid from each of these, I’m doing fairly well. In any event, this short animated film traces Mexico from the pre-Aztec times to relative modernity. I recommend it!
Watch: Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling, is amusing. I have never seen so many props (chairs, ladders, other people) used in an obviously fake but slightly entertaining match. YouTube has a ton and while we watched one fully, I don’t think highly enough of it to link to it. At least the commentary was in English.
Experience: Mexican Mayan Sites
Of all the Google arts and culture exhibits and tours we have done so far as part of these date nights, this was, far and away, the best. Well curated in conjunction with the British Museum, it talks about the Mayan civilization (both ancient and even the modern people and heritage), mostly through looking at the sites of Palenque and Chichen Itza. Short videos show sites as discovered and now. Long articles talk about Mayan water projects, the ballgame, dress, culture, and more. Virtual tours of some of the main sites are thorough and beautiful. And a video at the end talking about some of the restoration projects and the use of technology to recreate things like stairs carved with intricate iconography is incredible. You’ll want to give yourselves at least a couple hours to enjoy this.
One of the Palenque sites showing before and after (left) restoration.
Cinco de Mayo is a good excuse to celebrate Mexico, one of my favorite countries, and a place I am so excited to see again, hopefully soon. The food, the history, and the people are all amazing, and this date celebrates them all!
Like it? Pin it!