Main Dishes Mexico: Food and Traditions — By Guest Blogger on 05 May 2008
Camarones al Mojo de Ajo for Cinco de Mayo

Because today is cinco de mayo I wanted to write a little bit about this date for What’s Cooking, World? Not everyday I have the opportunity to ramble about one of my favorite topics, history. So please bear with me while I try to explain why cinco de mayo is such an important date for Mexico and the United States. I promise there is a delicious recipe at the end of the post.

Cinco de Mayo
by Ben

Like I have mentioned before, I love history. Today is a very special day in Mexican history because 146 years ago the Mexican army and a handful of untrained indigenous warriors armed only with machetes defeated the most powerful army on earth at the time, Napoleon III’s army, in the battle of Puebla. However, in Mexico this date is not an official holiday, only in the state of Puebla. Maybe because the French eventually came back with more troops, took over the country and placed Maximiliano I, an Austrian, as emperor of Mexico. Some historians have declared that Maximiliano deeply cared for Mexico and all its people (not only the rich and European descendants), but that is not a discussion for this post.

So, why is cinco de mayo such a big deal in the U.S? There are a couple of theories. One is that the general that led the Mexican forces to victory, Ignacio Zaragoza, was born in Texas when it was still part of Mexico making it a big feat for Texans (then part of the Confederate States of America) Others claim that because Napoleon was aiming to establish a route through Mexico to supply the Confederate army with weapons and soldiers in the Civil War, that single defeat in Puebla held up Napoleon’s plans for a whole year allowing the Union States to build the biggest army the world had seen and defeat the Confederate States.

I think the second theory is more accurate because after the the Civil War the United States supplied Benito Juarez and his government in the run with weapons and men to counterattack the invading power. Eventually that help and the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico to prepare for Prussia’s growing threat in Europe were key factors to defeat Maximiliano and the Mexican conservative traitor elite by the Mexican Republicans. That single battle on May 5th, 1862 changed the course of the whole North American continent. And that is something to celebrate.

But enough of history lessons. I am sure my nerdiness is boring you. To celebrate this cinco de mayo I decided to make a dish that is very typical in the states along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, camarones al mojo de ajo. I, however, changed the recipe because the original one calls for tons of butter and frying and I am still struggling with my diet. This is my “light” version of mojo de ajo.

Camarones al mojo de ajo
Makes 2-3 servings

For this recipe you will need:

  • 30-40 shrimp, deveined, raw, headless, shell-on
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 garlic heads
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1-2 chipotle adobado peppers
  • Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor mince garlic (all of it) and chipotle adobado peppers. Add the lime juice
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet. Add butter and fry the garlic in it until it starts turning brown. Be careful not to burn it. It is not a pretty sight (don’t ask me how I know)
  3. Add shrimp and cook until it turns pink/red.
  4. Serve over white rice or pasta and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

About this recipe:

  • The original recipe calls for frying of the garlic in oil and then in 1 cup of butter. That is just too much for me.
  • If you wish, you can grill the shrimp. In that case marinate the shrimp in the garlic butter overnight. Then put the shrimp in skewers and cook on the grill with the lid on.

I hope you liked this cinco de mayo history lesson and this classic Mexican dish perfect for a cinco de mayo party with lots of Margaritas and señoritas (and muchachos).

Buen Provecho!

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(23) Readers Comments

  1. Nice history lesson. It is always good to learn something new. Those shrimp look so good!

  2. Being smart is not nerdy, and you are not a nerd! That was interesting! Almost as interesting as the shrimp–my God, those look so good!

  3. Love your nerdiness Ben…& enjoyed going back to class this time! Read a bit about your history while visiting the museum in San Antonio last summer…& this brought back some of it. Very interesting! Saw your entry at Chris’s for her Cinco de Mayo event…thought it was an event to celebrate the mango (DUH???Yes I admit)!! The flavours are wonderful here…garlic & lime…cuppa butter…WHOA…great looking dish!!! :0)

  4. I am a nerd too Ben! Thanks for sharing this piece of history with us – it is always good to understand the factors and reasons behind a holiday! Those shrimp are AWESOME!

  5. Oh my goodnesssssss! This looks incredible! And I appreciate you “skinnying” it up a bit. I too, am a history nerd, particularly Art History, so I appreciate the painting you incorporated! :) Excellent post, Ben.

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  7. Very interesting Ben! I always wanted to know more about that day. The shrimp looks sooooo good.

  8. The shrimp looks delicious! Can not wait to try it. Love the blog, very colorful and fun! :)

  9. Hi ben,

    I wish I had some time to read through this properly but it’s late and I’m a bit overwhelmed atm with various things! Consider yourself tagged for the 10 photos – I’m adding you to the list and look forward to viewing your great food photos.

    Pixie

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