Sunday, is May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. Many think of Cinco de Mayo as a day to eat guacamole and drink beer and margaritas. Here at Coffee by the Roast, we receive extra orders for Mexican coffees, like Organic Mexico Chiapas, and flavored coffees like Mexicalli Creme.
In this country, Cinco de Mayo has grown into a celebration of Mexican food and culture. Some towns have parades or fiestas. Even those who don't trace their roots back to Mexico go out to their favorite Mexican restaurant or prepare their favorite Mexican dishes to enjoy at home. Many here think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day. It's not. Mexico's Independence Day is September 16. Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico, commemorating a battle with French troops in 1862.
The French invaded Mexico in 1861, citing unpaid debts to the French government as the excuse. The true reason was to gain a French foothold in Central America and to give the French access to cotton that was grown in the Confederate South. Cotton was in high demand in Europe, but in short supply due to Union blockades of southern ports. Once France secured Mexico, it could use Mexico to supply Confederate forces with upgraded artillery and munitions in exchange for the cotton. A win-win both for France and the Confederate South.
The invasion went well until May 5, 1862, when French forces attacked the small town of Puebla de Los Angeles. Since the French outnumbered the defenders 3 to 1, they expected an easy victory. The Mexican troops, led by Texas-born general, General Ignacio Zaragoz successfully held off the French, and after high casualties, the French army gave up and withdrew. The French didn't come back to Puebla de Los Angeles for a whole year. The victory encouraged the Mexican people to keep resisting the French invasion.
It was June, 1863, before the French occupied Mexico City. Up north, the siege of Vicksburg was well underway, and the battle of Gettysburg was approaching. The French realized that the Confederate South was losing the war, and decided to concentrate on quelling the resistance they faced in their new colony instead of getting involved in the conflict to the north.
That decision didn't work out so well for them. Once the Civil War was over, the reunited US turned it's attention to Mexico and let Napoleon III know the US did not appreciate France's continued presence on its southern border. Napoleon III cut his loses and withdrew his troops. The puppet governor he left behind was captured and executed in 1867.
The first Cinco de Mayo celebration was held in 1862 in a different Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. California was a free state in the Union, and the Mexican and Californiano population recognized the importance the the victory to the Union cause. Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in Los Angeles every since. A celebration that started in California of a victory led by a Texas-born general that helped keep the United States united, Cinco de Mayo is great time remember all the things the United States of America share with Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos.
Here at Coffee by the Roast, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a couple of different ways. This weekend, some of the younger folks are heading to Chicago to watch the Cinco de Mayo Parade. Paul and I plan to stay home and enjoy our favorite Mexico inspired dinner, Chicken Tacos with Homemade Guacamole.* Yum!
Since the mornings here are still pretty chilly, we’ll probably start the day with our favorite Mexico inspired hot beverage, Toucan Mexicalli Mocha. Here’s the recipe:
Toucan Mexicalli Mocha
Time: A few minutes, blending and heating time only
1 T cocoa powder
dash cayenne powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
dash cayenne powder (optional)
1 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, broken into small chunks (mini-chips work well, too)
1 C milk of choice (I prefer whole milk, but low fat or non-dairy milks work well, too).
1 tsp Agave or other liquid sweetener to taste (optional)
2 shots espresso or 1/4 C strong, hot coffee
If you have a steaming wand:
Measure dry ingredients into bottom of glass or mug. The chocolate should be on top.
Add milk and liquid sweetener.
Steam until mixture reaches 140 degrees F (for younger folks, stop here for Mexican-style hot chocolate)
Add shots of espresso/coffee and stir.
Serve and enjoy.
If you heating the milk on the stove:
Add dry ingredients, milk and sweetener to pan.
Stir and heat gently until hot (about 140 degrees F)
Pour into glass/mug, add espresso/coffee and stir.
Serve and enjoy.
How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinions with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast
*If you're interested in our recipe for Chicken Tacos or Homemade Guacamole, please contact us. We'd be happy to share them!