Tag Archives: 5 de mayo

Cinco Facts You Need to Know About Cinco de Mayo

Puebla is the state where this delicious mole comes from.

Puebla is the state where this delicious mole comes from Photo: Lissette Storch

As a Mexican transplant in the US, the festivities around Cinco de Mayo don’t resonate with me.  Although proud of the Mexican unlikely victory against the much better equipped (and considerably larger) French army in 1862, the connection between the Battle of Puebla and images of sombreros, cacti and mustaches continues to puzzle me.

I must admit I have become much more adept at keeping a blank face when people wish me a “happy Cinco de Mayo”. I still interchangeably try to deliver a history lesson or change the subject. This is no easy feat. How do you break the news that a party in honor of a Bacchus dressed in mariachi garb is not at all how Mexicans celebrate? Plus, and more importantly, this is not the point!

In fact, Mexicans don’t usually throw Cinco de Mayo parties. This holiday to us is more about parades and essay writing. We also sometimes get a day off (my favorite part). I worry that by exploiting this poorly-timed celebration of Mexican heritage, Mexicans themselves are just perpetuating this misconception. For example, I was horrified at the rendition of the Mexican national anthem during the recent Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight with this pretext. If this was not contrived, I do not know what is.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize and appreciate the opportunity to celebrate, as long as it is clear that this festivity has nothing to do with Mexico’s Independence Day, and more importantly, that Mexico’s cultural contributions cannot be summed up in a few clichés. So, if you are going to throw a big Cinco de Mayo party, here are cinco things you need to know.

Now, if you ask, me, I’d rather get a day off.

  1. Cinco the Mayo commemorates the Mexican unlikely victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
  2. Puebla is the state in Mexico where you can find one of the finest mole such as mole poblano (Pueblan).
  3. In Puebla, you can also find cemitas, a brioche-like bread with sesame seeds.
  4. The Mexican victory was short lived. Napoleon regrouped, and two years after the Battle of Puebla, finally won. With this, Mexican gastronomy was transformed.
  5. Mexicans celebrate with a parade, a day off and representations of the battle. If you want to receive a puzzled look, wish a Mexican a ‘Happy Cinco de Mayo’.

Guest Post – Mexican Cannelloni and Happy Cuatro de Mayo

Photo credits: Alicia Ramírez Presburger.  Manitoba, Canada

I found this contribution particularly appropriate. Thank you, Henry!  As a newer arrival in the US, the festivities around cinco de mayo don’t resonate with me.  Although proud of the Mexican victory against the French in 1862, in my case, this celebration is more closely attached to memories of parades and essay-writing.

I must confess that I am having a great deal of trouble connecting the remembrance of my country´s victory in a particular battle with images of sombreros, cacti and mustaches. I am  also still wondering what to say when people wish me a “happy Cinco de mayo”. I have come to the realization that I am going to have to practice a response that is both, kind and honest.

At any rate, I recognize and appreciate the opportunity to party, as long as it is clear that this festivity has nothing to do with Mexico’s Independence day, and more importantly, that Mexico’s cultural contributions simply cannot be summed up in a few clichés.

To whom it may concern:

Mexican cannelloni began when I wondered, what would happen if I took the recipe for chilaquiles and used ground beef instead of chicken?

It was good but not earth shaking. Nevertheless, I had beef chilaquilles leftovers.

I asked myself, what if I stuffed this beef, jalapeno and tortilla concoction
into cannelloni shells and covered with Mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, and baked in the oven?

This turned out to be a home run! Everyone (the wife and I) loved it. And as it happened, it was served on Cuatro de Mayo which is a Major Holiday in Winnipeg.

I leave you with this thought- when it comes to cooking, let your imagination go. You never know what you will discover!

Henry