Every year, the holiday called Cinco de Mayo (May 5) gives everyone the chance to celebrate a key victory that happened that day in 1862 during Mexico's battle for independence from French occupation. And with the growing economic, political, and cultural strength and pride of the Latino community in the United States, that celebration grows only more widespread every year.
This year, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Sunday, which presents everyone who observes it with both special opportunities and a particular challenge. Coming on the most peaceful, family-oriented day of the week, it offers the chance for families to get together, go to their places of worship, share festive meals at home or picnics in the park, and attend special parades and concerts.
So let me propose a different plan for the holiday this year: Throw a Cinco de Mayo brunch. Invite your friends and family members over to your home late on Sunday morning for a Mexican-themed meal.
It doesn't have to be a lot of work. As long as you have one homemade dish as the star of your table, the rest of the meal can come together easily. My recipe for Sunnyside-Up Eggs on Sausage Patties with Cilantro Cream Sauce and Spicy Salsa fills that role perfectly, especially since every stage of preparation apart from cooking the sausage and eggs can be done several hours in advance, and actual cooking takes no more than about 20 minutes. (The recipe serves 4, but can easily be multiplied.)
What else to serve? Have some good-quality corn or flour tortillas warmed and ready to offer with the main dish. Quickly mash up your favorite guacamole recipe as a side if you like, and have some good-quality fried or baked tortilla chips or fresh vegetable cruditÃ©s on hand for dipping. Find a good Mexican bakery, or one that offers a selection of Mexican baked goods -- pan dulce (a variety of sweet breads, rolls, biscuits and cookies) and sweet and savory empanadas (filled turnovers) -- or any other good-quality sweet morning breads.
To drink, brew up lots of good strong coffee, maybe flavoring it with a little ground cinnamon. Offer fresh-squeezed orange juice or tropical fruit juices, too. I'll leave additions to those beverages -- shots of rum, tequila, mescal or Mexican liqueurs -- up to your discretion. But whatever you do, please drink responsibly while you enjoy a happy, and maybe different, Cinco de Mayo.
SUNNYSIDE-UP EGGS ON SAUSAGE PATTIES WITH CILANTRO CREAM SAUCE AND SPICY SALSA
1-1/2 pounds bulk sausage meat (or fresh sausages, casing slit and removed)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as chives, parsley and thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, for cooking
10 ounces fresh tomatoes, cored, halved, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno chile, halved, cored, seeded, deveined and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus 8 cilantro sprigs for garnish