Food Holidays: Happy Cinco De Mayo . . . Or National Enchilada Day May 5th

Welcome to another of the Guide’s World Famous Food Holiday Celebrations.  Ok.  I was going go to say not really world famous but as my blog has been seen in over 150 countries throughout the world, it is more famous than some things.  How famous it is, I will let you be the judge.  Nevertheless, it’s time to celebrate another food holiday.  And what could be better than the American appropriation of a Mexican Holiday we don’t understand?  For on May 5th, the Guide celebrates Cinco De Mayo or National Enchilada day . . . whichever you prefer.

When it comes to Cinco De Mayo, I cannot honestly say I celebrated this holiday until I was an adult.  Maybe it had to do with the fact I was not Mexican.  And maybe it had to do with the fact it is really just a drinking holiday, giving people the world over the excuse to have too many margaritas for one night a year.  Whatever the case may be, I don’t think I really celebrated it until I went off to college.  Sitting in the bowels of UC Berkeley dorms, myself and a few other students decided to imbibe a little bit of the spirit of the holiday, and go to a Mexican restaurant on that most inauspicious day.  I had my first Margarita.  And, despite many a warning, the tequila did not cause me to go nuts or lose my dinner.  Thankfully!

As for Enchiladas, I have been having those since I started going to real Mexican restaurants at about the time I was 12 years old.  Maybe this puts me in a weird position, as my daughter is now twelve.  Maybe it is meaningless.  (More likely!)  But I was instantly hooked by these stuffed corn shells with cheese and possibly meat inside.  Of course, I had to wait until I was going to a real Mexican restaurant because fake ones don’t seem to carry enchiladas.  Yes.  Taco Bell and Del Taco are fake Mexican food.  And they are fast food . . . so . . . not real food either.  Woohoo!

As for my daughter, she was introduced to real Mexican food from the time she was young.  Not that I was particularly good at making it.  But I have made a few dishes and cooked my own homemade flour tortillas before.  So there!  But from the time she was little, she enjoyed these stuffed corn tortillas with red enchilada sauce and cheese draped all over it.  It probably was the cheese which enchanted her.  But whatever the case may be, I always knew there was some Mexican food she would enjoy whenever we went out to a restaurant.  My only challenge is to find sauces for her which would exist on the milder end of the spicy spectrum.  But this is a whole other story for a whole other day.

For those of you who are fans of the food holiday series, you know what comes next.  We specialize in the fakest of fake food histories as we scour the deepest darkest web, interview the deep state, and put our lives on the line for this totally fake information to bring to you the best in food histories.  (Ok, maybe it’s not totally fake.  There probably was a Mrs. Le Grand Benedict.  Maybe.  Who knows?  Some restaurant claims so and so it’s good enough for me.  And you get a double billing this week with some fresh information about both Cinco De Mayo and Enchiladas.  What could be better?

So without further ado, the Guide presents the freshest in fake food history as the Guide Celebrates Cinco de Mayo or National Enchilada with a fake history.

The Fake History of Cinco De Mayo

Ok, it would just be easy to write up a fake history with Cinco de Mayo and tell all of you it is Mexican Independence Day.  But I am guessing some people would see past that too easily.  Because there is a really large and completely true rumor out there for Mexican Independence Day.  Because that day is September 16th.  Being that my birthday is the 14th of September, hearing Mexican Independence Day was September 16th stood out like a sore thumb.

Which lead me to even more deep and dark places on the web to find out where this holiday stemmed from.  Was it from Tequila sellers?  Was it from the society for the promotion of all things alcohol?  (I’m not sure if this is a real group, but now I am going to have to find out.)  Or did the most interesting man in the world just declare it a national holiday?  Answers needed to be found out.  And what I found out shook me to my very core.

What I discovered in the process of researching the crazy holiday which focuses more on alcohol and less on substance (Or maybe I am wrong as they call alcoholism substance abuse. . .), is that we can all blame the French for it.  It just goes to show you; every alcoholic holiday is really some Frenchman’s fault.  Or maybe you give them praise for it.  I am ambivalent about it either way.

For the story of Cinco de Mayo is the story of the nephew of a petty little dictator who seemed to think he was an Emperor.  And then he went out and attacked Russia in the winter and was the first idiot to try such a thing.  (For further idiots and thank heavens he was an evil idiot . . . see Hitler) Evidently, Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon the I, was a chip off the old block one might say.  Because he seemed to start battles he had no means of winning.

It is well known, Napoleon III’s uncle was a megalomaniacal idiot who sold the Louisiana Purchase to the Americans in order to get money for his wars.  He eventually hoped to reconquer the territory he had sold after he dealt with the pesky British, Poles and Russians.  As history will tell us, he never had the opportunity to make this conquest.  Napoleon III thought it would make good on his uncle’s idea to take back the land, with a few modifications.

Whether the Civil War scared away Napoleon in the first place or some misplaced sentimentalism about the American experiment for the French People, Napoleon III decided he needed to own some land on the North American continent which didn’t include the United States.  Instead, he decided to own land a little further south, In Mexico.  Mexico, just smarting from the losses of territory in the Mexican American War, seemed ripe for the picking.  So Napoleon III decided to make up some debts the Mexican government owed to the French and make the Mexican people make good on the claims by seizing the country of Mexico.

Of course, Napoleon, not being the brightest light in the universe, decided it was a good idea to make war on a country overseas, thousands of miles from his homeland with a country that had a bit of a chip on its shoulder, smarting from its recent losses.  Now the Mexican government did owe some European countries some money.  But smarter Empires like the British and the Spanish negotiated with the Mexican government.  Napoleon was not as smart.  He wanted his empire.

The French government sent 6000 soldiers into a little town called the Puebla del Los Angeles.  (No, not the city in California) Juarez, the recently elected president of Mexico, rallied a group of 2000 to combat the French.  The battle took place on May the 5th, 1862.  The French came in droves that day but kept being rebuffed by the ragtag army.  In all that day, the French lost 500 men to the less than 100 for the people of Mexico.  While not a significant battle, it did help Juarez rally the people of Mexico to fight off the French, at least until the people of the United States got over the Civil War thing and helped the Mexicans kick out the French once and for all.

The celebration of Cinco de Mayo is quite limited in Mexico as it mostly covers the people of the Puebla de Los Angeles.  And somehow it drifted up into the United States and turned into a drinking and partying holiday.  But, if the story of Mexico kicking out the French makes people from Mexico feel good, and the people of the U.S. helped out their Mexican brethren by ridding the country of the French once and for all, enabling good feelings between Mexican’s and people from the U.S. at the same time, I am all for it.  Viva la Cinco De Mayo!

The Fake History of Enchiladas

But, what happened to the enchiladas you say?  I’m getting there.  I’m getting there.  Don’t rush me!  Enchiladas?  Right!  How did enchiladas come to be?  The story of the Enchiladas begins as all good fake stories do, with once upon a time.  For once upon a time, in the Mayan city of Tulum lived a little man named Chilada who liked to roll his corn tortillas all day long.

Chilada was a roller of corn whose wife used to love to make the hottest sauces in the village.  Chilada would make his corn tlaxcalli while his wife would make the sauces to dip the tlaxcalli in.  But the people of the village of Tulum didn’t much care for Chilada and his wife’s food.   They were all about the seafood, as they were but a small fishing village.  They would take the fish they received and trade it for goods with other local villages.

The leader of the fishing village was called Enchi.  And he used to make fun of Chilada for making his silly corn rolls all day long.  But mostly he had other things to worry about as there was a local tribe they traded for clothes and other supplies with.  Things had been going food for the village of Tulum until one fateful summer.

The fisherman had brought in the local catch but had left it out too long in the sun, causes the fish to begin to decay.  The unnatural heat this particular summer sped up the process.  So when the people of Tulum traded the other village for supplies the fish made the leader of the nearby village extremely ill with some kind of food poisoning.  The leader of the nearby village was sick for three days and many thought he would not make it.  But when he did, he proclaimed he had a vision.  Death to all the people of Tulum.  And especially death to Enchi.

Enchi grew desperate.  Not sure whether his small fishing village could fend off the more warrior type people of the nearby village, and unsure what would happen to his wife and child, he prayed to the gods to spare him.  In came Chilada, tripping over a weapon and nearly spilling his corn all over Enchi.  At first, Enchi thought to execute Chilada for being such a clutz.  But his wife asked Enchi whether or not Chilada might be a sign.

“He wouldn’t know how to help us from the people of Tuxli.  He doesn’t even seem to know that we are a fishing village and he should be out fishing and not be making his silly corn rolls,” Enchi exclaimed.

“Well . . . my cousin is from Tuxli,” Chilada stated plainly.

Both Enchi and his wife looked up from each other to stare incredulously at Chilada.

“And what might your cousin’s name be?” Enchi asked as he put a bit of fresh sea bass into his mouth.

“Chatuxli,” Chilada replied.

Enchi spat the sea bass out of his mouth as he had nearly choked on it.  Chilada, although not worried before when he should have been, began worrying something might happen to him now as Enchi spat out his food.  Enchi stared and Chilada for a while.

“So what you are saying is your cousin . . . YOUR COUSIN . . . is the leader of the Tuxli?” Enchi questioned.

“Yes.  He kicked me out because he said I liked seafood too much and I should live amongst people of the sea.”

Enchi nearly fell on the ground laughing.  This lasted for a few minutes until he picked himself up.

“Is there anything you know about your cousin which could help?  He thinks we tried to poison him.”

“Well, I know he loves the corn rolls I make and the sauce my wife makes.  Maybe we can bring that to him as a peace offering,” Chilada suggested.

“No.  That would be too obvious.  He would know it was from you.”

“Well, maybe we cook the fish this time and roll it up in the corn.  We can put my wife’s sauce on top.  He might not realize it was from me that way.”

Enchi reluctantly agreed.  And after getting the sea bass cooked and rolling it up into the corn tortilla rolls they added the sauce on top.  Enchi then gathered his whole village and brought them to Tuxli to beg forgiveness of Chatuxli.

As you very well know, the confrontation went quite well as Chatuxli loved the dish they had prepared.  The two villages grew closer as the one who made the corn and the other who caught the fish came together to make this amazing and delicious dish.  And today we know this dish as Enchilada as it was the coming together of Enchi’s seafood with Chiladas corn rolls.  This is my Enchilada story, and I’m sticking to it.

Top 5 Places to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Southern California

5) Red O – Newport Beach

Bringing some of the finest Mexican food to the shores of Southern California, Mexican O does this delicious food proud all year long.  But on Cinco de Mayo they will be bringing in live music throughout the day and the evening. Lunch and Brunch will be going on throughout the day, and their delicious dinners will be starting in the evening.  Just the chance to taste some amazing Duck Taquitos has my mouth watering.  And who wouldn’t love ending things with Tres Leches for dessert?  It will be food and fellowship to die for.

4) Hecho In L.A.: Taco Madness (6:00 PM – 12:00 AM)

Looking for an amazing blend of art and food?  You can’t go wrong at Hecho in L.A. Located outside the Mexican-American heritage museum in Los Angeles, you can get your adult on in this taco and spirits party going on that whole evening.  Street Vendors, Taco Trucks, and some of L.A. finest chefs will provide the sustenance.  D.J.s will provide the amazing music throughout the night.

3) Loco Brews, Loco Grooves at House of Blue Anaheim–  (2:00 PM – 10:00 PM)

Wanting to find some fantastic local spirits as well as a rocking good time?  No place like the House of Blues in Anaheim on May the 5th.  They are getting together some of the finest local breweries, bringing in some of the best local bands and their executive chef is putting together some of the most amazing dishes to try out at different stations throughout the location.  Great food and drink.  Fantastic Music.  Incredible fun.

2) Cinco de Mayo at Olvera Street – Los Angeles

In the heart of the historic Mexican Marketplace in Los Angeles, Olvera Street has amazing things going on all year long.  But nothing quite beats the craziness surrounding the Cico de Mayo celebration.  Celebrating for three days starting on Friday they will begin with live music and dancing in the plaza.  There will be authentic folk performers and even pinatas for the kids.  If you want the most authentic celebration of this holiday, good for kids and adults alike, you won’t beat Olvera Street.

1)  Fiesta de Reyes Cinco de Mayo Folklorico Festival

There is nothing quite as beautiful and as Old World in Southern California as the Cinco de Mayo Folklorico festival in the heart of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Troops from all over Southern California and some as far away as Las Vegas come to compete in this annual tradition.  Going on both Saturday and Sunday, its free to the public to see these amazing dancers celebrating the spirit of this historic dance.  There will be plenty of places to have amazing authentic Mexican food.  And there will be lots of things going on all day for the kids to be involved in.

Continue The Conversation

So what did you think of the history of Cinco de Mayo and the Enchilada?  What is your favorite Mexican Dish?  And have you ever had a holiday celebrated where you live that most people do not understand?  I would love to hear from you as always.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

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