¡Cinco de Mayo!

In Texas (heck, in the United States as a whole), Cinco de Mayo is more of an unofficial cause for celebration than than it is in Mexico. Many people erroneously assume that it’s Mexico’s independence day. Actually, it only commemorates a single battle in the Mexican fight for independence from European control – specifically France. Mexico at the time was in dire financial straights from years of internal turmoil. It made certain deals with European superpowers to abate their debts, but had to fight a little harder against France than the others to shake off that yoke. Leave it to Napoleon to make things a little more difficult. As a result of the Mexicans’ victory over the French in this one critical battle, and with subsequent pressure from the United States who’d just resolved their own internal conflict – aka a little thing known as The Civil War – France retreated further from conflict and eventually departed from Mexico.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated stateside by fun in the sun, plenty of Tex-Mex cuisine, and even the ubiquitous margaritas. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I too fall into this American trap of using Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to eat Tex-Mex. Ok. Not really. I shamelessly like to use Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to indulge in Tex-Mex, however since I’m trying to eat a little better during the week, and Cinco de Mayo falls on a Wednesday this year… I had to find a way to celebrate in my own way. Thankfully, I’ve been hanging onto a Laura Bush recipe for Cinco de Mayo Chilled Avocado Soup with Serrano-Flavored Crabmeat for just such an occasion. I’d been saving it for years for Cinco de Mayo, yet somehow I never got around to making it. Until this year.

Chock it up to getting a desk job again, but I decided to be more mindful about what/how much I’m eating. Let’s rest in this revelation for a minute. It’s true. I was a stay-at-home-wife (SAHW). I did that successfully for a bit. This is the part where I get vulnerable and real. Can I trust you? Here goes nothin’. In 2019, I took a (very) part-time job at a healthy grocery store to offset some medical loans. For a while I felt like such a failure as a SAHW. I didn’t tell anyone at first about my part-time job. I was ashamed. Then the pandemic hit and I was valued and useful… better yet, “essential.” Eventually the word got out that I wasn’t solely a SAHW anymore and suddenly… It didn’t matter so much. No one judged me and I gradually settled into and got comfortable in my role. Over the course of my two years at Sprouts, I grew to love what I did and the people I worked with. I was blessed with incredible leadership and became quite good at my job. I received four raises and they kept trying to promote me, but… I wasn’t looking to go back to full-time work. I was just trying to make my way back to staying-home.

When the pandemic really set in, overnight I went from working anywhere from 5-15 hours per week to 25 hours minimum. It was a wild ride and the pace kept up through our “slower” seasons. (I’m only now finding out through the grapevine that things are finally easing up.) It was clear. Since I was already away from home 5 days a week at least, I could no longer reasonably call myself a SAHW. A badge I had worn so proudly. At some point in there, I stopped referring to myself as such. It felt fraudulent to say otherwise. One day, a sweet friend called me up about a job she heard about in her husband’s office. She thought of me because of my work with the Y. I wasn’t looking for it, but rationalized that I was already out of the house 5 days a week as it was. I may as well find a way to make a dent in our overall financial goals so that I could one day go back to the fabulous SAHW-life I’d enjoyed before only better. As Dave Ramsey would say, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live and give like no one else.” In other words, we’re doing what we have to do now, so we can do what we want to do later.

All of this to say, trading my more active job for a desk job means I need to be more mindful. This soup seems like it would be heavy owing to the avocados and buttermilk, but in fact it was much lighter textured than I imagined. The cucumber purée gave this soup a fresh and cooling lift while the Serrano-spiked crab mixture nestled in the center added kick and gravity to this decidedly lady-like soup. I call it “ladylike” because this is the type of soup which is more ideally suited to a ladies luncheon. It’s a little zesty, but definitely more dainty and prim than a hearty family dinner at home. In any case, I enjoyed it because, honestly who doesn’t love lump crab meat?!

Despite using gloves to carefully chop the Serrano peppers (which I doubled by the way), I still managed to get the oil of the Serrano pepper on my skin. I presume it was when I was slipping the crab mixture into the chilled soup from the serving spoon. I didn’t quite have to throw out my contact lenses as I have had to do in the past, but sensitive skin definitely felt the sizzle upon contact. The sizzle didn’t last too terribly long, but it was still enough to make a mental note to keep a small supply of plastic kitchen gloves just for the times when there’s pepper prep. The gentle heat of the Serrano combined with the sweet crunch of the bits of red bell pepper and the acidic notes of the fresh lime juice gently tumbled with the tender crab meat added just the right textural note to the fresh and creamy soup.

The hot sauce in the soup added a bright, playful note in the background of the base of the soup so I wouldn’t change that part one bit. However, if I were asked to take this dish one level further… I think I would also add a wreath of fresh, crispy-fried strips of shallots or French’s Crispy Fried Onions around the scoops of crab meat mixture. That salty, crunchy note would send this soup over the top in my opinion. Is there anything that isn’t made better by French’s Crispy Fried Onions, honestly?

Question: What are some of your personal Cinco de Mayo faves?

Currently Reading: Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas by Stephen Harrigan

Scripture of the Day: “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” ~Proverbs 22:29

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