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cinco de mayo fiesta
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Even though Mexican independence from Spain officially occured in 1810, it took over 11 years for the Spanish soldiers to finally leave the country. This left Mexico with a power vacuum and marks the beginning of a particularly violent and chaotic time in this country's history. By 1858 Mexico was nearing bankrupcy. It had accumulated huge debts to several nations including Spain, England and France and they were demanding payment! France, under Napoleon III, was experiencing another period of empirical growth and sought to add Mexico to its conquests. Mexico was invaded and for a time the French held Mexico City and set up a government under a relative of Napoleon's, Archduke Maximilian of Austria. But the rule was short lived lasting only three years from 1864-1867. Now that the American Civil War was over the U.S. sent troops to assist the Mexicans. But it was the bravery and spirit of the Mexican soldiers under General Zaragoza who, though dramatically outnumbered, defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is the proud expression of that victory.

Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Independence Day as many belileve. That day, which is also known as El Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores) is September 16, 1810. The cry rallyed the populace throughout years of turmoil and every year at midnight on September 15, Mexicans shout the Cry, "Mexicanos, viva Mexico!"

Mariachi music is considered a hybrid style drawing from the indigenous music of the ancient aztecs, the Spanish inspired instrumentation of the conquistadors, mixed with the rhythms of the African slaves. The traditional "uniform" of the band is based on the attire of a wealthy hacienda owner.

The secret of a successful Mexican Hat Dance is.adopting the correct attitude. It is a seductive cat and mouse game, where a man moves around a woman in order to gain her attention. At first she rebuffs him. Then growing more interested, she completes the seduction by dancing around his hat. Today, Cinco de Mayo is more of a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated primarily in the state of Puebla. It has become increasingly popular among Mexican-Americans as a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. Many Mexican owned commercial interests have been very successful in promoting the holiday in the U.S. The focus here is on the food, music and art of our neighbors to the south. Several cities with high Mexican populations hold parades and concerts during the week leading up to May 5th. In fact Cinco de Mayo has become a bigger holiday north of the border than to the south!
the mix:
Cinco do Mayo is a great time to get outside and party with the neighborhood. Send out invitations several week before the fifth. Dig out and clean up the grill. Set up a bar and let everyone make their own mangoritas, as strong or as weak as they like. Put some mariachi music in the cd player and welcome spring!
Mexico's gifts to the culinary world are almost limitless. When Cortes arrived he found such riches as chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, beans, squash, avacados and tomatoes. Products, believe it or not, unknown in Europe. The Spanish introduced pork, beef, lamb, citrus fruit, cheese, wheat and wine to this region, setting off one of the most fertile revolutions in culinary history. The emerging Mexican cuisine was further enriched by the ingredients and recipes from many sources including Africa, South America, France and the Caribbean. One of the most recent refinements has been in the creation of a style known as Tex-Mex. This is a blend of Northern Mexican and Southwestern U.S. traditions and has produced some of the most popular dishes in the world.
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