Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Perhaps in this pandemic we can appreciate the day for what it is meant to be, a celebration of Mexico and Mexican American culture. Originally it was to honor an 1860s Mexican Victory over the French army (Wiki entry here), it’s now far more popular in America than in Mexico, in large part because it was hijacked by alcohol companies and used as a marketing gimmick.

The estimable chef and writer Shaw Lash (spent many years with Rick Bayless, then worked for Diana Kennedy in Mexico) was born in Texas, loves Mexico but hates what the celebration has become and wrote about it here for this site: “Should Cinco de Mayo Be Celebrated?”

If you know what you’re celebrating, then yes! During the past couple years my wife, Ann, and I have been to Mexico on three separate occasions, Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Patzcuaro, and I’ve come to appreciate the country in a huge way. So when I make us all a proper margarita tonight (recipe below), and when Ann makes the fish tacos and the BEST refried beans (recipe below), we will be appreciating the richness Mexican culture gives to us, particularly the culinary and artistic riches.

The BEST taco in Oaxaca: pork and chicharrons
I love the street corn there!
We found amazing back woods Mezcal thanks to Andrea Hagan who does Mezcal tours there.
A section of Diego Rivera’s astonishing mural of the history of Mexico, which David Lida brought us to on our food tour (see my NYTimes story on food tours here). Notice the image of his wife Frida Kahlo is in the center.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Classic Margarita

The classic proportion for a classic margarita.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail


  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1 wedge or disc lime


  • Combine the liquids in a glass, add ice and the lime. Enjoy! You've made it through another week of caronavirus quarantine.
Keyword cocktail, Cointreau, friday cocktail hour, Lime, lime juice, Mexican, simple syrup, Tequila

The BEST Refried Beans

This is general method for making fabulous refried beans.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 4


  • some sort of masher, like a potato masher


  • 2 cups cooked creamy beans, black or red or even white
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, Mexican if you have it! (or 1 tbls dried oregano)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
  • water or bean broth (if you saved) as needed
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)


  • Set out your beans, the onion, and oregano while you heat a skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and when it's hot, add the onion and cook it till tender, a minute or so, then add the oregano and stir.
  • Add the bean and saute them. There should be plenty of olive oil so feel free to add more. Mash the beans with a masher or heavy spoon until half to two-thirds of the beans have been mashed. Season with salt and pepper. Add some water or bean broth so that they're nice and moist (but not soup).
  • Serve with hot sauce, fish tacos and rice.


This is a great general method for anytime you have leftover beans of any sort! If you don’t have a masher, you can mash half the beans before recooking them.