We knew that Cinco de Mayo was not a holiday honoring fake mustaches, sombreros and tequila happy hour specials like some would lead you to believe. But had a stranger on the street asked us what is was really about and why this holiday drives hoards of people to beeline toward said tequila happy hour specials, we would have been left scratching our fake ‘staches. So, we decided to head on down to our local Mexican grocery store yesterday evening for more information (and delicious, delicious tacos).
The grocery store: La Plaza.The owner: Adrian. The food: one al pastor taco and one barbacoa taco with a side of pickled carrots. The teachings: a small Mexican history lesson. The tunes: Vicente Fernández.
La Plaza is a wonderful, foodie gem on Cleveland’s Westside. You can stop in for groceries or even come in for a ready-to-enjoy meal. Their fresh salsa, guacamole and Mexican pastries are truly fantastic. They have a taco cart on weekends in the front of the store, but you can also enjoy the same tasty options inside during the week. We highly recommend getting either a couple of tacos or a torta and washing whatever you choose down with a cold Mexican coke. The tacos pictured above are simple (2 corn tortillas, choice of traditional Mexican meat, cilantro, onion, small squeeze of a lime slice), yet EXTREMELY delicious. The pickled carrots have the perfect crunch and acidic flavor to add a refreshing contrast to your taco or torta.
Adrian is extremely friendly and was nice enough to provide us with some background on the real reason behind this holiday. Here is a little blurb on what we learned: Cinco de Mayo is in remembrance of the shocking defeat of French troops by the outnumbered Mexican military on May 5, 1862. The ruler of France at the time was Napoleon III, and no one named Napoleon takes kindly to defeat. So, the French came back and established Emperor Maximilian I in Mexico City. However, the Mexican military was ultimately able to kick Napoleon III and his Emperor back across the pond after a few short years, in 1867. Yet that temporary residency resulted in a strong French influence through out all of Mexico.
Adrian also touched on Mexican music and said the most famous Mexican musician is Vicente Fernández, the King of Ranchera. So our playlist is short and sweet, with three songs by Fernandez. Ranchera comes from the word “ranches” because the songs originated from the rural countryside. Fun fact: the “ayyyeee” shouts during many Ranchera nationalist songs is called the grito mexicano.
Go check out La Plaza and the delicious food they have to offer! Also, now that you know the history of the holiday, you can be the one who wins trivia during your tequila happy hour specials!