Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Weekend Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado.

Honestly? I’m a gringo. But I grew up near enough to take daytrips into México. And I always had enough friends with big Mexican families to get a taste of—and for—south-of-the-border culture. Which, to me, meant The Two Fs: Family and Food! Their families always found reasons to celebrate, ways to express la alegría de la vida! And, oh, how the second F, their Food, expressed that joy!

I remember watching sisters and aunts chatter as they ground corn into masa on heavy granite stones. And brothers and uncles laughing as they grilled carnitas, pollo, and carne asada. Then tortillas and tamales that were corn-on-the-cob just minutes earlier were filled with wonderfully spiced ingredients and tossed onto grills or into steamers.

Tiempo de fiesta!

Then we moved to Cincinnati. It was a wonderful city with great dining and cultural experiences. But Mexican food? Nada. All we could find were what I called “Midwestican” restaurants selling prefab shells filled with ground beef, shredded lettuce and American cheese, “spiced” with ketchup disguised as salsa.

Then we discovered a little taqueria just 20 minutes out of town in the midst of a bolsillo of Mexican immigrants. Here was a gift from the saints: an authentic Mexican restaurant run by an extended familia! So auténtico was it, in fact, that we were the only English-speakers present. It may sound odd, but the moment we walked in I turned to my wife and said, “We’re home!”

Since then, to my unending felicidad, Cincinnati has gone loco for Mexican food and culture, even hatching an annual celebration called Cincy Cinco. Sí, the Two Fs are alive and well in Cincinnati, and I couldn’t be happier! So…

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all (even grateful gringos like me)!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  1. LOL! I used to work Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant. Ai yi yi. Now my headache is Mother’s Day….takeout. Oh boy.

    I took a horseback riding trip long ago, and some women made chile rellenos over a campfire, blistering the skins off the chiles, the whole works. Fond memories and good food. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clever Girl says:

    I believe there is a third F…



    FUN! What? Were you thinking something else?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. delphini510 says:

    I love this post, it is happy and filled with vitality. It must have been wonderful to live so close
    to people who are so open and happy to share life.
    Glad you found your bit of Mexico in Cincinnati.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nancy Ruegg says:

    If you’re ever in the mood for a little twist on traditional Mexican, try Django’s in Northside. Their stuffed poblano pepper with an egg on top is magnifico! Feliz Cinco de Mayo, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My son-in-law Roberto texted us a photo of a jar of mayonnaise in the sink. Get it? No, Roberto, we don’t. He had to explain it to us. Oh, dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Irene says:

    Wow, so nice you’ve had all that proximity to authentic Mexican culture and food. Mexican food has come a long way in Canada as well; when I first arrived here (1988!) many people did not know what an avocado was, or how to use limes. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jane Tawel says:

    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. revruss1220 says:

    My wife and I have a special affinity for Cinco de Mayo since it is our wedding anniversary! I LOVE to hear the Spanish language being spoken. It sounds like music. Felix Cinco de Mayo!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. boromax says:

    LOL. “Midwestican” – love it. We are from the southwest USA, but we have gotten around. We lived in PA for a while and when we found an out-of-the-way little family-run Mexican restaurant in the bustling migrant metropolis of Biglerville, we were more than delighted!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chris Ciccarelli says:

    Wonderful! The true culture is beautiful but it’s the other stuff that makes a person want to say, Please tell your children to stop running thru the store, or please don’t open the nicely folded stack of cloths and just walk away leaving them helter-skelter..! Or please don’t pound on the hood of my daughters car to protest illegal immigration policies of which he can do nothing about… I to grew up loving the sound of mariachi bands, Olvera Street, and the bull fights but today’s culture seems to hate everything this country/government has provided that their own country would never do… What a party pooper I am…

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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