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Is Cinco de Mayo the Mexican Chanukah?

I must admit that when my uncle told me that Cinco de Mayo was just an excuse for Corona to sell more beer, I thought he was kidding until I found this editorial in the New York Times.  Apparently it’s a minor regional holiday hardly observed in Mexico outside of Puebla, which celebrates the defeat of the French army there in 1862.  Still, it does offer an all too brief day of recognition for Mexicans remaking their lives north of the border.  Besides, as the article points out, what holiday isn’t tainted by commerce?  I’m sure even ancient pagans would have harsh words about what Nestle’s done to the Easter Bunny.I had reached out to my Mexican uncle (I have family from almost everywhere) to find out if there were any traditional Cinco de Mayo recipes that I could write about for this blog.  The best he could suggest for a commercially engineered holiday was mole poblano, which at least gets the region right.  It was the five different kinds of chile that held me up.  I’m only starting to discover  Mexican markets in the city and wanted to have time to seek out the right ingredients.  I think I’ll save it for “el grito de la independencia” on September 15, where at the stroke of midnight, the plazas in every town and city of Mexico fill with people shouting Viva Mexico to commemorate their independence.  If we’re cherry picking holidays, I vote for that one.

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