Today is Mexican Independence Day, which is dieciséis de Septiembre in Spanish. Some of you may be asking, “Hey, isn’t Cinco de Mayo Mexican Independence Day?”
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 by a much smaller and poorly equipped Mexican force. Although the Mexicans won the battle they eventually lost the war and were briefly ruled by a German speaking man (the Emperor Maximilian) in charge of a Spanish speaking country, which was truly under French control.
Today Cinco de Mayo is mostly an American holiday celebrating the 99 cent margarita. Interestingly, it is not a major holiday in Mexico. I think this is due to the fact it is easier to say, “Happy Cinco de Mayo,” than, “Happy dieciséis de Septiembre!”
Back on the morning September 16th, 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo ordered the church bells rung, and announced that the war for Mexico’s independence from Spain had begun. That began a 11 year war for Mexican independence.
Right now my upper grade geography students are studying Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. I actually adjusted my curriculum this year so we would be studying this area at this time to talk about Mexican Independence Day. On Friday we spent some time in the classroom talking about September 16th, and how it is celebrated in Mexico. Obviously food is part of that equation. So, as a class we made a native Mexican food in a relatively American fashion: Guacamole.
First, a few facts about the avocado and guacamole. Avocados originated in Mexico and were eaten by the Aztecs. The Aztecs called avocados ahuacatl. What does that mean you ask?
Testicles. (Commence middle school giggling here)
Well, the Spanish decided that they couldn’t pronounce ahuacatl (or they were too embarrassed to say it), so they called it the agobado (which means lawyer). Anyway, in English we feel uncomfortable with both testicles and lawyers, so we just call it the avocado…which I think means fantastic green fruit.
The Aztecs also made guacamole (ahuaca-mulli) which basically translated into avocado sauce. Apparently, they mashed them up and sometimes added tomatoes and onions.
So after discussing the history of avocados as well (including the Aztec meaning of avocados), I brought all the kids into the kitchen on Friday to make guacamole. I separated the kids into three groups, and each student had their own avocado which they were to cube (using a table knife) and spoon into their bowls.
By the way, I took out the pits for the kiddos with my large chef’s knife, impressing everyone, and not hurting myself or others. I told the students to NOT try that at home.
Once we had all the avocados in the bowls, the kids mashed them up with forks. I will say, they were AGGRESSIVE mashers. Take that avocados!
Once we had the avocados mashed, we added our extra ingredients to make three varieties of guac.
Variety 1: Avocado, salsa, and salt. I really didn’t have time to chop onions, tomatoes, cilantro etc. so the girls added some delicious Garden Fresh Salsa from Costco.
Variety 2: Avocados, mayo, onions, chili powder and salt. You may be curious about the mayo in guacamole, but that’s the way my lovely wife’s family makes their guacamole, and it is fantastic. It has a wonderful creamy texture, and adds some more fatty goodness.
Variety 3: Avocados, mayo, salsa, chili powder, and salt. Some of the kids wanted to try the guacamole with everything, so I let them try it. It was good.
When all was said and done, the kids mixed up their guacamole and began the tasting.
Many of the kids had never had guacamole alone before, and most liked it. We also shared with other teachers and students at school, and overall it was a big hit. So, I hope everyone has a happy September 16th, and maybe consider celebrating with your own guacamole this week.
Finally, I’ll ask two questions. How do you make guacamole? Second, what else do you like to do with avocados? Have a great week.