The Book Stall
Retro Fiesta

Fish Fillets in Salsa Verde
Salt and pepper both sides of fillets. Place on baking sheet and squeeze juice over fillets. Broil until edges begin to curl and tops are opaque. Gently turn over fillets, broil until just beginning to brown. Paint liberally with Salsa Verde; return to oven to heat. Remove to serving platter; garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Serve extra Salsa Verde in separate bowl.

.Recipe: Salsa Verde

  • 2 Anaheim or long roasting chiles
  • 1 or more small hot green chiles of choice, to taste
  • 10 to 12 tomatillos
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 to 4 green onions including green, chopped
  • 10 to 12 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • juice of 6 limes (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, broth, or bouillon
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
Roast chiles and tomatillos until skins are blistered. Rub off chile skins under cold running water, remove seeds. Chop chiles and tomatillos, set aside. Heat olive oil in large heavy skillet; gently saute onions, garlic, celery, and pepper until soft and just beginning to brown around the edges. Add chiles, tomatillos. oregano, cumin, and cilantro. Gently saute 2-3 minutes. Add sugar, lime juice, stock, and salt and pepper. Stir, bring to gentle boil. Reduce heat to simmer; continue cooking until salsa is reduced to thick sauce, stirring periodically to prevent scorching. For smoother texture, process in blender or food processor.

Semana Santa

During Semana Santa, the Holy Week that marks the end of Lent and includes Easter Sunday, it is a Mexican custom -- according to this book -- to break cascarones over your friends' heads. Cascarones are dyed eggshells filled with confetti.


Guests at a fiesta will pick a cascarone out of a basket full of them and crack them over each other's heads. 

"If the confetti cascades instead of staying in a pile on top of the head, the recipient will have good luck," Geraldine Duncann explains. "The one breaking the cascarone must make a wish beforehand, and if the confetti cascades, the wish will come true."

Retro Fiesta
A Gringo's Guide to Mexican Party Planning
by Geraldine Duncann
Collectors Press, 2005

"Postwar America was fascinated with Mexico or things Mexican, or almost Mexican, and it is to the celebration of that era this book is dedicated," writes Geraldine Duncann, author of this retro-style party book.

Illustrated with bright and colorful advertising graphics from the era, this book includes recipes for classic Mexican-style dishes, advice for staging a home fiesta, and even instructions for making and breaking a pinata.

"Here's the traditional way to break the pinata," Duncann explains. "Everyone stands in a line. The first person is blindfolded, spun around three times, then given a stick with which to break the pinata. That person has only three tries; then the next person has three tries. This continues until someone breaks it, at which time there is a scramble to retrieve the goodies that were inside."

Other party games described in the book include Pass the Pepper, Huevos Casca (Cracking the Eggs), and, of course, The Limbo.

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