The small kitchen TV atop the refrigerator sounded a noise similar to the sounds of "El Cinco de Mayo, la celebracion de Independencia". My mother's spoon stopped dead in the meat and chile filled pan.
"Que dijieron?" she asked as she walked closer to the TV. The verbal hell that ensued is a lesson neither or nor my siblings will forget. My mother has prided herself on raising her children as Mexican as possible, while respecting the country she has adopted. While our school mates were leaving out cookies for Santa to retrieve, my mom was making us wrap the tamales that El Santo Claus would devour with a hot cup of atole. The Fourth Of July was met with hot dogs, history, and aguas frescas in our back yard, only to celebrate Mexican Independence Day two months later with enchiladas, sparklers and coca cola. We were raised to know it all, to acknowledge the reasons behind the celebration, el significado, as my mother would say. The significance.
You will have to excuse my crassness when I say, don't wish me a Happy Cinco de Mayo. I am not from Puebla, that is not my either of my two Countries' Independence Day. Too many times I have been asked how I will be celebrating Mexican Independence Day on May 5....Answer: I am not. But I am going to enjoy the history of culture of my family and take the opportunity to advocate the significance of the day. So if you feel compelled to celebrate this day, here are five things you need to know:
1. September 16 is Mexico's Day of Independence...not May 5.
2. 5, Mayo de 1862 is the date of the Battle of Puebla. It commemorates what many considered to be the unlikely victory of the ill prepared Mexican troops over the French army.
3. Although the Holiday is considered popular here in the U.S., Mexico as whole does not celebrate the day. Most of the festivities are in the state of Puebla.
4. If you have to celebrate with a drink, try a Paloma rather than a margarita. The margarita, although delicious and now a predominant staple of the Mexican drink, was popularized in San Diego in the 1940's. Palomas still incorporate the delicious tequila and lime, but are mixed with a grape fruit soda, and an optional salted rim.
5. No tacos! Puebla's location in the heartland of Mexico provided an opportunity for all rich flavors to meet. It is famous for its mole poblanos (a thick rich sauce heavily seasoned) and molotes (corn meal and cheese biscuits filled with sausage, squash flowers, and potatoes). Test out your culinary skills and whip one of these dishes up!
Now stop being an ignorant asshole, read up on your history, and enjoy our culture!
Begrudgingly, Happy Cinco de Mayo but more importantly, VIVA MEXICO!