Cinco de Mayo is Sunday. How many of you know what it celebrates or why? Shaw Lash is one of the key cooks and brains in the Rick Bayless Chicago operations, places I really admire. Last year she wrote why, having grown up in Texas and later lived in Mexico, the Cinco de Mayo madness drives her mad. She wants you to know what it means and asks should we celebrate it at all. Her short answer: It’s a celebration of being Mexican. And it’s a brilliant American marketing gimmick. Shaw Lash is one of those aware people I admire, so when my able cohort Emilia suggested a tequila cocktail, I emailed Shaw. Shaw suggested a Margarita primer. There’s an extensive discussion of all drink issues in Rick and wife Deann’s book Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles Read On »

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I’ve written before in the depths of winter that now is grapefruit season and grapefruits were my first realization that food was in fact seasonal. It was 1989 and I’d grown up in a country where I could buy pretty much anything I knew about all year long and this was the natural way of the world. I’d fallen in love with Donna, who was a photographer for the Palm Beach Daily News, but I kept long-held plans and left her to travel Africa and Asia, only to find myself 10 weeks later on the porch of an American expatriate living in Ouagadougou. A monkey jumped onto my lap, and I thought What the hell am I doing in Ouagadougou when I’m in love with this beautiful photographer in southern Florida? I couldn’t answer the question. I caught Read On »

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A refreshing recipe for thai basil watermelon margaritas, via Bob Vivant.

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Friday’s cocktail hour celebrates not simply a classic, but a cocktail that has been horribly debased even during its relatively short life span. Of unverified origins, the Margarita seems to have come into play in the 1940s. But since then, America has trashed it. Served in pitchers of ice. Countless inane variations. Dispensed slushy out of spigots at bad tiki bars. Who invented the frozen margarita? Does anyone know? If drinks were for kids, I’d say, go to town, but adults drinking frozen margaritas, well, I think they’re embracing their inner Popsicle-loving six-year-old (and would be better off with a Popsicle in the afternoon, followed by a cocktail in the evening). We’ve been on a tequila run these past few weeks after our return from Canyon country and will finish here with a classic Margarita, Read On »

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I had my first Paloma in Ixtapa, Mexico, during a blog seminar I was invited to and fell in love with it. I think I had ninety-five before the week was out. By the end of the evening I couldn’t even remember the name. (Though I remember Garrett becomes very talkative after about seven or eight.) I still see the Mexican bartender carefully saying, PAH-LOW-MA to me. I would repeat as best I could, but he could see he’d be repeating himself in a half hour. Now, of course, is not the time to have ninety-five Palomas but one solid one for the cocktail hour. It is HOT, and these are REFRESHING! In fact, exactly as refreshing as the above example looks in Donna’s lovely photo. The Paloma is simply tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. I’m Read On »

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