I was born in the border town of El Paso, so an appreciation for Mexican culture is part of my DNA. So even though Cinco de Mayo is a fairly minor holiday in Mexico, I still consider it a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions Mexico has made to Texas and the rest of the world: The music. The art. The food. Oh, yeah, the food.
Cinco de Mayo, of course, has nothing really to do with food – it commemorates the victory of Mexican soldiers over a much-larger French force in the Battle of Puebla in the 1860s. It is not Mexico’s Independence Day; that’s in September. Cinco de Mayo was actually never celebrated much in Mexico itself except in the central state of Puebla. Here, the holiday was observed first in California, then spread to the rest of the U.S. in the 1980s, helped along by marketing campaigns by beer companies, who knew a good celebration when they saw one.
Now Cinco de Mayo is sort of an all-purpose holiday – a great reason to celebrate the heritage and contributions of Mexicans, much like we enjoy Irish culture at St. Patrick’s Day and German contributions during Oktoberfest. For me, of course, it always comes back to the food.As a native Texan, Mexican cuisine is one of my major food groups. (I still get chill bumps when I hear the sizzle of a fajita skillet.)
So what better way to celebrate than by throwing a little fiesta? At FRESH, we’ll be offering demos and samples of some great Mexican products all day today. Even better, many are Texas-grown. Stop by to sample some stone-ground corn chips from Gloria’s, founded by Fort Worth’s Gloria Cardona, using a recipe her family has used since 1930. Try some Beanie’s salsa, from a Houston company that hand-makes its black bean, salsa verde, and regular tomato-based salsas. And come meet Tyler’s Leigh Vickery, who will be hanging out in the FRESH Taste Kitchen, showing off some of her Leigh Oliver’s quesos and salsas.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!