Cinco de Mayo: Mercado de la Raza and paniolos
Normally, Mercado de la Raza, the Latin American grocery store, sells its famous tamales the second and fourth Saturday of the month, but the tamales are making a special appearance for Cinco de Mayo. Two types of tamales will be available: green chile and chicken mole (6 for $14.50). Go early, in case they sell out, and enjoy them still warm.
While you're at the Mercado, you might as well stock up on Cinco de Mayo provisions: owner Martha Sanchez's fresh salsa; ancho and guajillo chiles for your Mexican cooking; cheeses such as queso fresco (like a fresh goat cheese) and queso cotija (an aged cheese similar to feta); and corn tortillas, imported from a tortilleria in East L.A. Sanchez says it's one of the few tortillerias that still make it the old-fashioned way, meaning the corn is ground with a stone grinder.
Another way to celebrate Mexican culture in Hawaii: fill those corn tortillas with Hawaii paniolo-raised beef. In the 1830s, Kamehameha III brought Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) to control cattle populations. The vaqueros brought with them the saddle, lasso and horsemanship, and their influence is still prevalent in Hawaii's paniolo culture.
Mercado de la Raza: 1315 S. Beretania St., 593-2226, facebook.com/mercadodelaraza
Where to buy local beef: Whole Foods sells Maui Cattle Co. beef and Foodland (Beretania, Market City and Kailua locations) and Foodland Farms offer Kuahiwi Ranch beef.