The meaning of Cinco de Mayo eludes me every year. Even though I’ve googled the topic in the past, I never remember what we’re celebrating, exactly, other than Mexican food and margaritas.
The same goes for St. Patrick’s Day, which I’ve interpreted as an excuse to consume green alcoholic beverages in excess.
In the latter case, I should know better because my blood line is “mixed breed” with a dose of Irish; or, as Grandpa urgently told me before he passed, “Northern Scots-Irish.”
I plan to ask what the heck he was talking about during a trip to Scotland this summer, but with Grandpa’s penchant for oddball humor, I’m not entirely convinced this is a good idea. For all I know, the inquiry could be code for “Fetch the haggis and force-feed the lass!”
But back to the Fifth of May and its Americanized purpose: margaritas.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to manage syrupy cocktails without inducing sleep and a headache. To my taste, most margaritas are simply too sweet.
For palates like mine, however, I’ve found a margarita that puts the celebracion back in Cinco de Mayo: the Jalapeño Margarita by Our House at 808 Second St.
El Jimador and Triple Sec with house-made Sweet and Sour and their special jalapeño syrup are served over rocks and nicely garnished with, you guessed it, a jalapeño. The spice is a worthy counterbalance to sugar.
Intriguing flavor gives way to a subtle assault providing a slow-to-finish advantage (unless you’re a lush or operating under a dare).
A special hint for those who might normally forgo the salty rim: This is one instance when sodium is definitely indicated. Picante!
When it comes to adult beverages, I’m not immune to arranging a few facts in order to justify my desired intake. In this instance, my neighbor, Gary, and his 15-year battle with splenetic cancer is inspiring.
Years ago, after he’d received numerous traditional medical interventions, Gary decided to go alternative. His method? Eating a couple of jalapeño slices each day, usually added to his oatmeal.
His tumor is now undetectable.
No doctor or medical study has implied cause and effect, but Gary believes jalapeños have prolonged his life. Who am I to say he’s wrong?
In any event, it won’t hurt (much) to try. Besides, if ailments might be prevented or treated by the slow burn of green fruit, beautifully disguised in a cocktail, I’m all for it!
(Oatmeal can wait for the morning after …)
So hoist a glass this Cinco de Mayo and, if you know it, toast the true meaning of the day.
But if you don’t, I’m sure Gary would appreciate the gesture.
— Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis. Her column is published monthly. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org