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The winter holiday brings a season of festivities, friends, and food. I LOVE this holiday season, who doesn’t? And MexGrocer is here to help your party planning all the way. You know we sell food, but our website also features recipes and sells decor too! Here’s something to get your inspiration kick-started for your next fiesta:

Choose your menu

Most of these recipes are a breeze to prepare –  but only you need to know how easy! Impress your friends with a delicious spread of finger foods, and the stand-by staple: chips and guacamole! Click a name for the full recipe details.

Killer Chile Rellenos

Chiles rellenos are made of Chile Poblano (Ancho)or Anaheim chiles, with skins removed, dipped in batter, stuffed with cheese or meat and covered  with lightly spiced red sauce.

Queso Fundido – Mexican Fondue

This is always popular at parties. Serve with tortilla chips or roll up some of the dip in a warm tortilla.

Guacamole Mixtec Style

Guacamole is a spicy Mexican paste made from crushed avocado and various seasonings, usually including onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes.

Set the soundtrack

No party is a party without some music! Here are a few of our favorite tunes sure to get the party moving:

Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings

Cool and catchy with a strong vocal

La Marea by Manu Chao

Lively and busy – great fun with friends

Plan party game
Forget pin-the-tail, play a couple of party games that get your guests up and moving!

Fiesta Flash

Here’s a great idea for a simple game to play with mates – all you need is a camera with a self-timer and a few ‘up-for-it’ friends!

Number of players? As many as you have!

Who can play? This one’s for everyone – especially the camera shy!

What’s needed? A camera with a flash and self-timer (most digital cameras and some disposable cameras have both – just check first!)

What’s the gist?
1. Grab the camera, set the self-timer and the game begins.
2. Each player must hold the camera at arm’s length and point it at themselves for a second or two – before passing it on to their left.
3. Keep going, until the camera goes off with a flash of light, a startled face and much laughter.
4. If the flash goes off, that person must do a quick forfeit (you decide!) before the game continues. Of course, random forfeits can also be awarded for not holding the camera long enough…

Who wins? Anyone lucky enough to avoid the flash.

Sombrero Dance

In this fiesta game if you get caught with the sombrero you must eat a hot pepper!

To play you’ll need a sombrero, music, fun loving players, and chili peppers. As your dancing to some festive music take the sombrero and place it on somebody else’s head, they then must place it on another’s head, and so on.

When the music stops whoever last had the sombrero on must eat a pepper!

Decorate your space!

Don’t forget to make your space lively by adding some fun colors and decor! Check out what MexGrocer has to offer:

Party Decorations

Party Tableware

Party Drinkware

Enjoy your fiesta! And don’t forget to check out MexGrocer.com for more recipes, decorations, party favors, and ideas!

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Beyond being delicious, Avocado (the main ingredient in guacamole, in case you didn’t know) is pretty nutritious. It packs a lot of calories, but eaten in moderation, it can be a healthy, and lip-licking delicious, eat! Check out just a few of the health benefits below:

Avocado is a rich source of healthy fat. What is healthy fat, you ask? Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats which, according to the American Heart Association, decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, raise beneficial HDL cholesterol and last but not least, lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. One-half cup of guacamole contains 15 grams of fat. The majority, about 10 grams of the 15, is monounsaturated fat, the California Avocado Commission says. There are only 2 g of saturated fat, and no cholesterol.

Finally, the avocado is an excellent source of vitamins B-6,C, K and Folate, and the minerals: copper and potassium. Folate is necessary for your body’s production of red blood cells, and it decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C aids in healing by  increasing the absorption of calcium and iron,and  maintains healthy teeth, bones, gums and blood vessels. Vitamin B-6 is vital for the normal function of your neurological system, and potassium is necessary to maintain normal heartbeat and blood pressure. Avocado is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

One-half cup serving of avocado also provides about 8 grams of Fiber, too. Fiber is found in all plant-based foods, and  promotes normal bowel function, reduces the risk for heart disease (a healthy heart is a happy heart!) and diabetes by lowering your glucose  and cholesterol levels, according to MayoClinic.com.

According to Livestrong.com, “Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.”

All in all, sounds like every day should be guacamole day!

P.S. – This is a really cool website you should check out for tips, recipes, and facts about the amazing avocado.

http://www.avocadocentral.com/nutrition

Read more:

1.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/290000-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-guacamole/#ixzz2CEcuZqep

2. http://www.beinglatino.us/lifestyle/health/more-than-guacamole-5-health-benefits-of-the-avocado/

3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp

4. http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

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Maybe some of you out there are like me. When it comes to cooking, I can hold my own, but when it gets down to the really good stuff, I’m pretty lost. That’s why I’ve taken an active interest in learning from the masters. Perhaps, like me, you’ve also never considered taking a cooking class — but in my research, cooking classes (even the online kind) are surprisingly pretty good deals.

Here’s a few (online) cooking classes that you might like to check out:

Epicurious Cooking School

Mexican Cuisine: http://cookingschool.epicurious.com/c1-catalog-detail.php

Cost: $49 for four hours of instruction, PLUS the first class is free!

Lessons:

  • Overview and Salsas
  • Chiles
  • Moles
  • Tamales
  • Ceviches
  • Pork & Tortillas
  • Rice & Seafood
  • Beef & Beans

Universal Class

Tex-Mex Cuisine: http://www.universalclass.com/i/course/tex-mex-cooking-101.htm

Cost: $30 for six-month subscription ($55 for a CEU Certificate)

Lessons:

  • Tex Mex Cuisine
  • Classic Tex-Mex Recipes
  • Salsa, Rice, and Cheese
  • Pasta
  • Tex-Mex Flavors
  • Guacamole, Beans and Quesadillas
  • Beer Battered Fritters, Pizza, and Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Nachos, Beef and Chipotle Pasta, and Corn on the Cob
  • Chimichangas, Potato Bake, and Baked Chicken
  • Chili
  • Marinades, Soups, and Potatoes
  • Beverages

Live Linga

    Mexican (Link: http://www.livelingua.com/mexican-cooking-classes.php)

    Cost: $99 for 4-5 hours of instruction (cooking and language instruction simultaneously)

    Lesson: (Choose one of four)

    1. Sopes – Salsa de Chipotle Molcajeta – Jamaica

    2. Tostadas de Tinga – Guacamole en Molcajete – Pepino con Limon

    3. Gorditas – Salsa Verde Molcajeta – Pina con Apio

    4. Mole – Enchiladas de Pollo/Queso -Tamarindo

    Happy Cooking!

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    What would you do if someone invited you to a fiesta in a graveyard? Would you go? Or does the mere idea of it give you a major case of the creeps?! Well, you’re not alone, amigo. In the USA we try to deny, cheat and minimize death.

    Not so in Mexico. In Mexico, the symbol of death is a grinning, fleshless beauty called La Muerte-Lady Death (La Catrina). An elegantly and colorfully clad skeleton wearing a flower-laden hat, created by press artist José Guadalupe Posada (1853-1913), she’s an amazing metaphor of life embracing death. You can feel this in her name, for she goes by La Catrina-Fancy Lady, La Flaca-Skinny, La Huesuda-Bony and La Pelona-Baldy. There’s humor here, not fear. What’s up with that?!

    The renowned Mexican poet, Octavio Paz put it this way back in 1959:

    “The word death is not spoken aloud in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, chases after it, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, sleeps with it; it is his favorite toy and his most lasting love.”

    How did nextdoor neighbors-the US and Mexico-develop such wildly divergent attitudes toward death? And how did what was originally a pagan holiday survive the invasion of Catholicism? History holds the answer to those questions. Día de Muertos has its roots in pre-Columbian tradition where the people felt deeply connected to and lived harmoniously with the Earth. They viewed the cycle of life-conception, birth, growth, maturity, decline and death as part of a great and mysterious whole. Spiritually, rather than materialistically grounded, they felt themselves to be one with all that had ever existed or would exist-on this planet and in our universe. For these reasons, death didn’t scare them, nor did they try to outsmart it.

    Although the holiday’s exact origin is uncertain, it’s believed that it began with the Olmecs about 3000 years ago. They saw life as an illusion and believed that in dying, human beings truly awakened and their souls were set free. The Olmecs transmitted their ideas to the Toltecs and Mayans in Central America, who later shared them with the Aztecs, Tlaxcaltec, Chichimec, Tecpanec and other Indians native to Mexico.

    When the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs in the 1500′s, they converted the Indians to Catholicism. However, they encountered resistence when attempting to eradicate all native religious traditions. In a compromise sanctioned by the Church, Día de Muertos was merged with two Christian holidays-All Saints Day on November first and All Souls Day on November second. This makes it a thoroughly unique, cross-cultural holiday, effectively blending two very different traditions. In that regard, it is symbolic of the Mexican people, for they are also a synthesis of the brown-skinned “people of the earth” and their white-skinned conquerors, the “people of the “sky”-as the Spanish were initially called.

    True to its roots, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead is a celebration, not of death but of the continuum of life. It consists of prayerful reflection, joy and revelry honoring those who came before. In a culture without written family trees, parents and grandparents pass stories on to their children. These aren’t boring lists of names, facts and dates, but lively, humorous tales about those who came before. Their favorite foods, passions and possessions are discussed, along with their triumphs, their foibles and all sorts of other anecdotal details about their lives-forging a tangible, emotional link between the past and the present.

    So now that we have a little background on the holiday-onward-to the graveyard fiestas, amigo! One more thing before we go. Be advised that there’s no connection between Día de los Muertos and Halloween whatsoever. This holiday is as important to Mexicans as Thanksgiving is to us. It’s a time when people travel long distances to be with their families, some coming from as far away as the northern US.

    So-here we go! It’s the last week in October in a rural Mexican village. Along the sides of the roads and in the open-air marketplace, homemade stands pop up. They’re filled with pan de muerto – a special sweet bread with crossed bones on top (recipe follows article), amaranth seed skulls with raisin eyes and peanut teeth, candied Marzipan and chocolate skulls called calaveras, roasted corn or elotes, dancing skeletons or calacas carrying cardboard coffins, votive candles, and mountains of golden yellow marigolds-the flowers used to summon the spirits of the departed.

    By October thirty-first, we see altars springing up in every home. As we stroll down the cobblestone streets, we notice that the front doors are wide open. We see entire families joining together in decorating tables topped with wooden crates and lace table cloths. They’re covered with marigolds or zenpasuchitl, along with the purchases from the street vendors. There’s an abundances of candles, pictures of saints and photos of the deceased. In homes where there have been children who died, we see toys, balloons, piñatas. Even clothing and tiny pairs of shoes. Suspended from the ceilings are rectangular sheets of yellow, pink, Orange, blue and green papel picado-tissue paper with cutouts-that impart an airy feeling reminiscent of the sky at sunset. We inhale pungent, delicious aromas. The smell of the marigolds. The strong odor of copal incense, mixed with the chocolate-nut-and-chile aroma of mole and the earthy, meaty smell of tamales. We see pottery urns of mescal or pulque (native drinks made from cactus) and bottles of tequila. Our attention is momentarily diverted by a band of mariachis strolling down the middle of the sidewalk, playing, singing and laughing, followed by a troop of children.

    November first, All Saints Day is reserved for honoring the children, or angelitos. Early in the morning we head toward the local graveyard, where the family members are cutting down weeds, raking, touching up chipped plaster and repainting the tombs. Decorations are springing up here too. We see crosses made from marigold petals, elaborate multi-colored floral wreaths and artificial flower arrangements, along with more of the fruits, vegetables, goodies, photos, personal mementos and statues we saw in the homes. It’s colorful. It’s powerful. It’s noisy. At 2:00 p.m. a hush falls over the crowd as the priest appears to conduct an open-air mass. Relatives huddle together, mourning their dead with la llorada-the weeping. It chokes every one of us up. At sunset, hundreds of candles are lit, mingling with the powerful scents of the food, incense and flowers. At midnight, the church bells begin to toll, summoning the dead. Many families will spend the entire night here, remembering their loved ones with recitations of the Rosary and praying that they will come and partake of the aromas of their favorite foods.

    On November second the entire village gathers in the cemetery for the big fiesta. It’s packed. Every family has a picnic basket, plus beer and tequila for toasting the departed. Street vendors are selling tacos, tamales, shrimp and fruit cocktails, drinks and fireworks. Mariachis compete with one another and with the occasional radio blasting Mexican Ranchero music. At the close of the all-day festivities, multi-colored explosions light up the sky. Then the ancestors return to heaven and it’s over until next year.

    To celebrate Día de Muertos in your own home, try making an altar to honor and remember your ancestors. Then cook up some Pan de Muerto, some colorful Sugar Skulls and serve after a luscious, soulful, authentic meal consisting of Mole and Tamales. Some real Mexican tequila for slow, thoughtful sipping with this feast just might be in order too!

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    El día de los Muertos es una fuerte tradición para la cultura Mexicana. Esta celebración  tiene como principal objetivo conmemorar a los difuntos. Su principal orígen es prehispánico y ha sido una importante tradición a lo largo de 2,500-3000 años atrás.  Las principales actividades que se  realizaban para la conmemoración consistían en conservar los esqueletos y utilizar los cráneos como trofeos. Estos “trofeos” a su vez simbolizaban reencarnación y celebración de la muerte.

    En gran parte de la región mexicana se celebra el  Día de los Niños Difuntos el 1ro de Noviembre. Se cree que el primero de el mes de Noviembre las almas de los niños difuntos regresan  para reunirse el 2do de Noviembre con el resto de las almas vivas.

    La tradición consiste en brindar ofrendas de comidas típicas mexicanas que caracterízan o simbolízan a la muerte. El ejemplo más popular es el Pan de Muerto, un panecillo dulce que se puede hornear en diferentes formas y tamaños generalmente espolvoreados con azúcar. Otra ofrenda clásica del Día de los Muertos son las Calaveras de dulce; son dulces de azúcar en forma de cráneo decoradas con los nombres de los difuntos sobre el frente y son consumidas por parientes o amigos de el difunto.

    Hay otros materiales comúnmente utilizados para ésta tradición como lo es el Papel Picado que suele decorar los entornos de los altares, La famosa Flor de Cempasúchil y porsupuesto el retrato de el difunto a conmemorar. Estos materiales se colocan alrededor de el retraro acompañados por velardoras. La mayoría de la gente acude al cementerio donde se localizan los difuntos parientes a brindales coronas de rosas y flores típicas regionales.

    Imagen de http://www.scrapbookaholicbyabby.com

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    Queso!

    by MexGrocer Staff Writer on October 3, 2012 · 0 comments

    Cheese. It’s one of my favorite ingredients to add to recipe because it can add a superb texture and flavor to the recipe that nothing else can. But if you’re like me, an amateur cheese connoisseur, it gets confusing sometimes when it comes to picking out the right cheese. I’m not as familiar with the nuances from different types of cheese – something that I’m always eager to learn about!
    First off, there’s soft cheese, a category where a lot of the creamier quesos fall in to:
    Queso Panela
    This queso is a soft, white cheese that is drained in baskets (a process adapted from the Greek’s). It easily absorbs flavors and is best eaten fresh. It serves as a great topping shredded, or as part of an appetizer.
    Queso Blanco
    Described as a combination between cottage cheese and mozzarella, this moist, crumbly cheese becomes creamy when it is heated. The cheese is very versatile and is a good choice for stuffing, or eaten fried.
    Queso Fresco
    As it’s name translates, this “fresh cheese” is a crumbly mix of cow’s milk and goat’s milk. Mildly acidic in taste, Queso Fresco is probably the most common queso to crumble over  tacos or botanas.
    Requeson
    Described as the “Hispanic Ricotta”. This queso is lower in fat, and works well on salads and in desserts.
    Soft And Semi-Soft Cheese: This category of cheese is one of the more popular of the three, because these cheeses really have a presence in Mexican cuisine. These quesos can be melting or crumbled, or if you’re really adventurous, eaten separately.
    Anejo
    Anejo cheese is an aged queso that is dry and gratable. With it’s zesty flavor, it’s a perfect condiment for tacos and salads, or used as a garnish over an entrée.
    Asadero
    Similar to Fontina or Monterrey Jack cheese, Asadero is a mild, chewy cheese that adapts well and is great for melting. Traditionally, Asadero fills chiles rellenos  and is the main queso in chile con queso.
    Chihuahua
    Brought to Mexico from the Mennonites, Queso Chihuahua is a pale yellow queso that’s very similar to mild cheddar but tastes like sharp when it is aged. Chihuahua cheese is great in a Mexican fondue called Queso Fundido.
    Oaxaca
    Queso Oaxaca is the most popular cheese for quesadillas, and tastes similar to Mozzarella. It is a curd cheese that is stretched into long ribbons that are then rolled up to form a ball. The balls of cheese can be used shredded for toppings, and also works melted on cooked food.
    Semi-Hard And Hard Cheeses: This category of cheese is best for grating, or melting into a thick, fondue-like sauce.
    Cotija
    Cotija is a dry crumbly cheese similar to Parmesan. Both the fresh, and the aged versions are used crumbled or grated over beans and salad dishes.
    Enchilado
    Queso Enchilado is Cotija Anejo coated with chile that’s ideal in dishes for the spicy flavor as well as for color.
    Manchego
    This queso is a sheep’s milk cheese that adds a nice salty, nutty flavor. It’s perfect shaved over side dishes.

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    Molcajete y Tejolote

    A Molcajete is a stone mortar used mostly to grind chiles for salsa. Originated in the state of Oaxaca. Molcajetes come in different shapes, one very popular in central Mexico is the Pig Molcajete.

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    In Mexico, September 16th is celebrated as the date of Mexico’s Independence from Spain. Late in the eighteenth century, the middle and upper classes in Mexico began to question the structure of their society. Influenced by the revolutions in the United States and France, they too decided they wanted freedom of speech, a representative government, and a restriction of the over bearing power of the Catholic Church. They determined that the only way to reform their society would be to gain independence from the Spanish, whom they felt had oppressed them for over 300 years. (Cinco de Mayo or May 5th, is when Mexico won a battle against the French in the city of Puebla, Mexico in 1862.)

    In late hours of September 15, 1810, Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato, led his people in rebellion against the Spanish. He rang the church bells, calling the Indians and Mestizos (those of mixed Spanish and Indian blood) to mass. He exhorted them to rebel against the Spaniards with cries of, “¡Viva México!” “¡Viva la independencia! (“Long live Mexico! Long live our independence!”), which is the now-famous “Grito de Dolores,” or cry of Dolores. Hidalgo then ordered the arrest of the town’s Spaniard population. With clubs, slings, axes, knives, machetes and intense hatred, the Indians took up his challenge.

    The people’s army marched to Mexico City, fighting all the way. When they finally reached the capital, they hesitated, and many soldiers deserted. Before the year was over, Father Hidalgo was captured and executed. His army fought on, however, and his “Grito de Dolores” became the battle cry of the war. The bloody fighting raged on until 1821, when Mexico finally succeeded in winning its independence from Spain.

    Every year, on September 15th, the Zócalo, or main square in Mexico City is decorated with flags, flowers and lights of green, white, and red. People sell confetti, whistles, horns, paper-machie helmets, and toys in the colors of green, white and red. Street vendors sell all their favorite foods. At 11:00 p.m. the crowd becomes silent, as the president of Mexico steps out on the palace balcony, and rings the historic bell that Father Hidalgo rang to call the people. Then the president gives the Grito de Dolores. He shouts “¡Viva Mexico!” and “¡Viva la independencia!” and the crowd roars the words back at him. Fiestas celebrating independence take place that night and the next day-throughout Mexico. The air is filled with confetti and streamers. The 16th is a fiesta day-full of music, bullfights, rodeos, parades, more fireworks and plenty of dancing, food and drink.

    Authentic Mexican recipes to help you celebrate Mexican Independence Day:
    Queso Fundido (Mexican Cheese Fondue)

    This delicious fondue takes only about 20 minutes to make. It serves six and can be served on tortillas or scooped up with chips.

    1 lb Mexican queso “Cacique” or “El Mexicano” or any other queso blanco (light white cheese), cut into small chunks
    3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
    juice of 4 limes, or ¼ cup lime juice
    6 to 8 drops of a Mexican Hot Sauce, or other hot pepper sauce

    Slowly melt cheese in a medium saucepan over flow heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When almost melted, add the garlic, lime, and the hot sauce, and heat through. Serve immediately with tortillas or chips.

    Birria de Borrego (Spiced Roasted Lamb)

    You will love this one! While this Mexican delight takes nearly three hours to make, it will serve six to eight people, depending on their appetites.

    2 pound lamb roast, boned
    6 dried ancho chiles
    chiles negros
    3
    Guajillo chiles
    1 cup water
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tbsp ground cinammon
    1 teaspoon ground oregano
    bay leaves
    ¼ tsp thyme
    2 tsp cider or wine vinegar
    3/4 tbsp water
    Salt
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    tortillas
    Salsa Verde

    In Dutch oven, place lamb and cover with one (or a bit more) cups of water. Add garlic, pepper, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves and vinegar. Bring to boil and let simmer for two hours, or until meat comes easily off the bone. Remove from heat. Cut into bite-sized chunks, or shred. Add salt to taste.

    In medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Remove stems and most of seeds from the chiles. Put into water and boil for about two minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain and set aside. Mix chiles into lamb. Heat until warm and serve with piping hot tortillas and plenty of salsa verde.

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    El 16 de Septiembre de 1810 fue el día en el que se consumó la independencia de México, la cual puso final al dominio Español. A consecuencia de éste acto que desencadenó una gran pasión mexicana se celebra la noche de el 15 de Septiembre el famoso “Grito de Independencia”. Esta celebración por lo general viene acompañana de un grande festejo entre los estados Mexicanos. La fiesta consiste en el establecimiento de las “Fiestas Patrias” las cuales son constituídas por juegos mecánicos, comidas típicas mexicanas, grupos musicales y presentaciones folklóricas.

    El “Grito de Dolores” según la tradición mexicana es un llamado que el cura Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla dio la noche del 15 de Septiembre. A lado de el cura Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla venia el Capitán de el Ejército Realista Mexicano Ignacio Allende y el Insurgente Mexicano partícipe en el proceso de independencia Juan Aldama. El “Grito” consistió en tocar las campanas de la parroquia de Dolores ubicada en el estado de Guanajuato proclamando  el inicio de la guerra de Independencia. La tradición consiste en tocar las campanas de dicha parroquia mencionando o proclamando las siguientes frases:

    ¡Mexicanos!

    ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron Patria!

    ¡Viva Hidalgo!

    ¡Viva Morelos!

    ¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez!

    ¡Viva Allende!

    ¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!

    ¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!

    ¡Viva México! Viva México! Viva México!

    Toca la campana y ondea la bandera Mexicana.

    El pueblo entusiasta responde con gran pasión “Viva Mexico!” y celebra con fiestas y cantos mexicanos. Es la tradición más pasional que tiene México.  Cada estado de la República Mexicana tiene sus respectivos y muy esperados festejos. Esta fecha conmemora el esfuerzo de el pueblo mexicano contra la conquista Española. Es asi como la celebración se lleva a cabo. !Esperemos con mucho orgullo nuestro 16 de Septiembre en este 2012! ¡Viva México!

    http://lemusoft.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/mexico-2.jpg

    wikipedia.org

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    Ever wonder how Mexican cuisine features in a foreign culture such as….say, Japan?

    During my brief stint in Tokyo, I was craving a taste of my favorite cuisine from home.

    I looked up local mexican restaurants in my Lonely Planet guide, and out of the two (more than I thought there’d be!) listed, I chose the restaurant with this colorful review:

    You’d be forgiven for thinking you were eating Tex-Mex somewhere in America after walking into this cavernous Ebisu institution. Although the jumbo margaritas, enormous bowls of nachos and sizzling hotplates of fajitas are reason enough to stop by, there’s something endearing about Japanese waiting staff in cowboy boots and hats.”

    Waiters in cowboy hats? Sounds fun.

    First step into the restaurant and you feel like you’ve stepped into a strange Spaghetti Western. The decor was pretty impressive, with tall, antler decorated (I think those were antlers) chandeliers and rustic wood railing everywhere.

    The menu was eclectic. Beef Jambalaya, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Enchiladas, Taco Rice. I’m not sure when Beef Jambalaya counted as Tex-Mex food, but okay.

    I ordered the enchiladas, and some “Fresh Guacamole” as a starter. The guacamole came, and surprisingly, it was decent. The enchiladas would not have passed muster back in San Diego, but after having no Mexican food for the past two months of travel, they hit the spot.

    To wrap it up–my experience with Mexican Food in Japan hits along the lines of the conclusions drawn by the article below:

    ”  1. It’s expensive
    Even if it weren’t for the awful dollar-to-yen exchange rate, Japan is expensive. So, it’s not surprising that a cuisine as rare as Mexican would be super-expensive, though the price tag was still a shock given Gustavo’s no-true-taco-should-cost-more-than-a-buck maxim. Two beef tacos clocked in at 840 yen, which, Google says at press time, is $9.85. A burrito combo meal? $20.99.
    2. It’s stereotype-y
    elpanchostereotype.jpg
    Screengrab from El Pancho website…
    Did I spot images of guys in giant sombreros, sleeping under a saguaro? I did. El Pancho actually occupied a pretty cool space above ground level in a Shinsaibashi skyscraper, a dimly-lit, cantina-of-comic-books room. There are Mexican flags, maracas, and, more than anything, lots of cactus-related paraphernalia. All of this may be played out to our eyes, but keep in mind this kind of imagery is awfully foreign in Japan. One lady we dined with–not Japanese but not American–asked what a taco actually was. We’re spoiled in OC.
    3. It’s Japanized
    I half-expected nothing but corn-and-mayonnaise burritos and pickled ginger tacos from Japanese chefs taking on Mexican food, but instead the differences with the homeland’s–or at least Southern California’s–cuisine were more subtle. The chips and salsa portion was dinky, a far cry from the hefty and constantly replenished baskets of obese America. The burrito combo came with not beans and rice but rather beans, a quesadilla, a taquito, grainy mashed potatos and yes, corn. Rice was nowhere to be seen on the plate, which is a shock given that Japan loves its rice–white rice.
    4. Weirdness aside, it’s okay
    A week-and-a-half into the trip, I was craving the flavors so abundant here in OC: cheese, fat, tortilla, heat. Japanese food isn’t heavy on those things. And El Pancho mostly delivered the soul-satisfyingness we want from Mexican food.”
    Article by Spencer Kornhaber
    Read the original article here.

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