Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cinco de Mayo - Mexico Celebration

Cinco de Mayo, is a commemoration of the 1862 Battle of Puebla when Mexicans first beat the French troops who were attempting to take over Mexico. For this post, I'm going to take you to a trip down the Mexico way by doing a tablescape celebrating Mexico's influence on the American culture.

 Like St. Patrick's Day ,  Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration held on May 5th,  is one of those events that has become part of  American culture.

 One of the things I truly enjoy learning about are the different customs and colorful history of many cultures and how our lives are intertwined. There's something to be said about multi culture - it is the bond of all these cultures that makes a nation great, it is the infusion of all new ideas that makes the country grow and it is in the variety of foods that make us eat healthier (I have to throw that in since we are, after all, interested in dining in style!). 

I didn't have much of anything that represents Mexico except for the little pots, made in Mexico, I acquired when we visited San Diego, CA (which is very near Tijuana, Mexico) so, instead, I am capturing the festivities centering on  the richness of their food by accentuating the table with some of the basics of Mexican cuisine: corn, bell pepper, tomatoes, avocado, chili, and onions. The Farmer's Market has an abundance of these fresh vegetables for a small cost.   I also found some beautiful ceramic vegetables and the Mexican woman from a thrift shop and, lo and behold, they make great centerpiece accessories!  

 There was something about the Mexican woman that captured me - I believe it was her underlying air of hard work and patience, which belies maternal love.   It is befitting to see her surrounded by all the harvested bounty, and now it's up to us to create some delectable Mexican meals out of them!

The History of past civilizations has always fascinated me. Learning about the past, I appreciate the present so much more.  Mexico, before it was ruled by Spain, was a land of many different Indian groups: the Maya, Totlecs and the Aztecs. The Aztecs were originally called the Mexica, and ruled for 100 years, eventually became the dominant empire by the early sixteenth century.  The Aztecs were also the people that introduced our most beloved food  - chocolate!

While looking for items for the table setting, I found an Aztec calendar that was a souvenir gift and the onyx bookends (depicting a Mexican figure sitting aside a cactus) that my husband had for years, which set the stage for the centerpieces. It was fortuitous that the color scheme of the Mexican flag: red, white and green, are similar to Christmas and Valentine's Day  because I am able to reuse some of the place setting, glasses and tablecloth.

The colors of the Mexican  flag are highlighted on the place setting. Green symbolized hope and fertility, white means purity, and red represented blood lost during the independence from Spain for 300 years.  I'm using a white napkin holder to symbolize a final strangle hold on stopping the bloodshed, resulting in peace. 

Mexico Flag
A crest on the white panel was a symbol from the Aztecs  who, according to legend were told by their god to locate their capital in the place where they saw an eagle eating a snake, which they found in Tenochtitlan.  When the Spaniards arrived, they changed the name to Mexico City.

I also borrowed some books about Mexico from the library to add  a conversational piece and a bit of drama to the table.

The red wine glass will be used for Horchata, a Mexican sweet milk and the green goblet for the Margaritas.

To get into the spirit of celebrating Cinco de Mayo, sombreros (acquired from having visited Chili's restaurant)  are worn and Mexican music (borrowed from the library) will be playing in the background while eating.

 Mexican Meal
Sweet Corn Tamale
Mexican Slaw
Whole Wheat Flatbreads with Tomato Avocado Salsa
Salsa Rice Stuffed Roasted Peppers
Double Cheeseburger Tortillas
Chicken Tortilla Layer

Sweet Corn Tamale

Mexican Slaw

Salsa Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers 

Horchata - sweet milk  
Chocolate Flan Cake   
Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Flan Cake

Ahhh, what will we (at least me) ever do without chocolates?  Thank goodness for the Aztecs!

Shopper's Corner:
TJ Maxx - white plates and red and green tablecloth (years ago)
Dollar  Store - margarita glasses
Goodwill - ceramic vegetable and Mexican woman

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