May 5, 1862. Mexican forces overtake a significantly better equipped French army at the Battle of Puebla in an unlikely victory. It was a symbolic victory more than anything else, but when Mexican miners working in California heard the news they were so overjoyed they spontaneously fired off rifles and fireworks.
And so began Cinco de Mayo celebrations. They became especially popular in the United States around the 1980’s, once marketing companies took hold of the holiday and gave us all another reason to drink.
Cinco de Mayo festivities in Austin range from community parties in local parks to block parties downtown. This year, the Mexic-Arte Museum throws its sombrero back in the ring with the return of one of its premier events, Taste of Mexico. Celebrating the unique and oh so delicious culinary arts of our neighbors to the south, Taste of Mexico is a festival of Mexican-inspired cuisine and full-flavored drinks. The event will also feature contemporary Latin music by DJ Sonora of Peligrosa and, of course, live Mariachi music.
While most Cinco de Mayo celebrations around the country end up being Tex-Mex fiestas, the Mexic-Arte Museum strives to offer an authentic experience. You’re not going to find cheese-soaked enchiladas or hard shell tacos here. They’re even going so far as to bring in Mexico’s nationally recognized chef Daniel Ovadía as the Chef of Honor, owner of some of the top restaurants in Mexico City.
Channeling the Mexican Dining Experience in Austin
This year over 30 of Austin’s favorite Mexican restaurants will showcase their most popular dishes at Taste of Mexico in Brazos Hall. “It wouldn’t be a proper Taste of Mexico without trying Mole Poblano, the national dish of Mexico, this year provided by El Sol y La Luna in the Mole Chicken and Rice!” said Adrian Orozco, Membership Associate at the Mexic-Arte Museum. He is helping coordinate the extensive list of restaurants participating in Taste of Mexico, including El Naranjo, Sazón, La Mexicana Bakery, Mi Madre’s, Morelia’s Mexican Grill and many more.
Have you ever heard of Tepache? It’s not something you’ll find on a happy hour menu, but it’s a popular drink with street vendors all over Mexico. Tepache is a fermented beverage typically made with pinapple, water, brown sugar and seasoned with cinnamon. Popular Austin restaurant Hecho en Mexico will be serving an authentic Tepache during Taste of Mexico that should really stand out.
Chef of Honor Daniel Ovadía, author of La Cocina de Daniel Ovadía: Historias y Recetas de Paxia, will preparing a few surprise samples for guests. “We can tell you that he will be importing all his ingredients directly from Mexico, only days before his trip, to ensure the flavor is truly ‘a taste of Mexico,’” Adrian shared. Ovadía will also be conducting a free public lecture and demonstration of four different dishes on Monday, May 4th at El Meson restaurant.
Taste of Mexico’s Art
Amongst many of Mexico’s rich traditions is its vibrant and distinct art. The Mexic-Arte Museum will feature the Bazaar del Arte during Taste of Mexico. The bazaar will include Mexican folk arts and crafts, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, selections from the Museum Store and the fun Pop-up Print Shop.
You won’t find a more prominent display of Mexican art than in designs for the new building that will soon house the Mexic-Arte Museum. “We are moving forward on schematic designs and plans for a dynamic, iconic building that will be a magnet for learning about the past, participating in the present and fostering a collective pride for the future,” Adrian proudly mentioned to me.
Taste of Mexico culinary festival will be held at Brazos Hall on May 5, 2015 from 6-9 PM. Tickets are $65 for Museum Members or $75 for the general public and can be purchased here.
@Crafty_Ed wants to know:
What are your favorite Cinco de Mayo events in the Austin area?
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