Tequila The Landscape, History & Taste of Mexico

Spanish

The Essence of Tequila

Tequila is the national drink of Mexico and is certainly one of the most popular spirit beverages in the world. Tequila is made from blue agave.

Agave is a plant species that instantly brings to mind images of Mexico and represents the essence of being Mexican.  From the north, in Jalisco, to the south, in the Yucatan, various species of agave have marked the
and defined the landscape of our country, giving it a taste unmistakably linked to our identity. 

Its leaves are thick, fleshy, sharp, and– like cactus–store water in their interior in order to survive. There are over 200 species of agave of which almost all grow in Mexico.  They vary in shape, size and color.  The agave is such a rich plant that man has extracted from them fiber, paper, candy, vinegar, honey, sugar, and of course, three alcoholic beverages which are the pride of Mexico: tequila, mezcal and pulque.

In pre-Columbian times the Aztecs revered a species of agave known as “maguey” (Agave Americana), which they considered to be representative of “Mayahuel”, the goddess of alcohol who fed her 400 children with pulque that emanated from her numerous breasts. Mayahuel was also associated with the moon, femininity, vegetation and its life cycles.

A sacred beverage was obtained from the agave which could only be enjoyed on special occasions by the tlatoanis or rulers, priests or the elders. This beverage is pulque, which still remains popular in certain Mexican regions, mainly in the state of Hidalgo.

From another species known as henequen, from the Yucatan peninsula, the Mayans extracted a fiber to manufacture rope and rugs. Henequen was the engine for a huge industry in that zone at the end of the 19th century.

Mezcal is produced from the combination of various species of agave, a typical spirit from the Oaxaca region, whose handmade manufacture is a source of wonder and enchantment for visitors to this region of Mexico. It’s called mezcal because that’s the name of the heart of the agave, from which a delicious honey is extracted. In the Nahuatl dialect, mezcal means, “The house of the moon” and conceptually refers to the core, the essence; the center of something.

Finally, tequila is produced from blue agave or ‘Agave Tequiliana Weber’, the most famous drink in our country; an intensely flavored spirit associated with the lively and courageous character of the Mexican. It’s also an allegory of our history because it fuses the benefits of a native Mexican plant with the European techniques that Spain introduced during the colonial period.

In Mexico tequila is synonymous with celebration, pride and complicity between friends. The best of times are enjoyed with a few shots of tequila; with tequila you toast for success and its also with tequila that you drown the pain of disillusionment.  With a shot of tequila, unforgettable life stories are begun and with another we remember them! 

Cinco de Mayo

by May Herz

¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

Mexicans are truly festive; any excuse gives way for a celebration! But the most important and exciting are the 16th of September, Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May. They are good occasions to show the pride of being Mexican, the love of the Motherland, and the certainty of being a free country, thanks to the many men and women whose struggle made history.
 

The quest for independence started on the 16th of September 1810, following the will to become a free nation, no longer submitted to Spanish rule. The struggle went on for 10 years. Finally, in 1821, the first independent Mexican government was established.

Presidente Benito Juarez

 Being an independent nation was not easy. Over the years, Mexico received economic support from several nations, France and England among them. Later on, even Spain supported the new country. 

Thus, Mexico became indebted. Due to ongoing political unrest caused by many groups struggling for power, Mexico was not able to pay back the loans. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all-foreign debt payments would be suspended for a period of two years, with the promise that after this period, payments would resume.

 

In 1862, the three European countries dispatched their fleets to Mexican shores pursuing not only money but also land and rights as payment for their loans. A government representative greeted them and explained that Mexico did acknowledge its debts, but it had no funds to pay them. They were offered payment warrants in exchange.

The Spaniards and the British decided to accept the warrants and withdrew from the scene. But the French government’s representative did not accept the offer and prompted his troops to invade the country and head toward Mexico City, the nation’s capital. They had to cross through the state of Puebla to get to the capital.

 

The Mexican President, Benito Juarez, reacted immediately and prepared the defense. He commanded Ignacio Zaragoza , a young and brave General, to fortify the City of Puebla and repel the French invaders.

 


General Ignacio Zaragoza: Cinco de Mayo Hero


Spanish

Cinco de Mayo Hero

When “Cinco de Mayo” is mentioned in Mexico, one of the most symbolic battles in the Mexican collective unconscious immediately comes to mind: the Battle of Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza, with only a small army, took on the powerful French forces of Napoleon III during the Second French Intervention.

Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin was born on March 24, 1829 in the city of Presidio de La Bahia de Espiritu Santo, now Goliad, in southern Texas, USA. He was the second son of the marriage between Miguel Zaragoza and Maria de Jesus Valdez Martinez Seguin.

When he was five years old, after the independence of Texas, his family moved to Matamoros in Tamaulipas state, where he began his studies and ten years later he moved to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

For several years he leaned toward the priesthood, but then left, perhaps to continue the example of his father, who was an infantryman.

During the United States intervention in Mexico between 1846 and 1848,young Zaragoza tried to enlist as a cadet, but was rejected.

He saw, however, from a distance, how Mexico lost more than half of its territory in an unequal war. It was not until 1853 that he managed to enter the Nuevo Leon army, first as a sergeant, then later as captain of his regiment. In 1854, he decided to join the Plan de Ayutla, a movement that attempted to overthrow the dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.


Cinco de Mayo Facts


1.   Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day.

 

2.   Cinco de Mayo is celebrated every May 5 to observe the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Independence Day is  September 16.

 

3.   The Battle of Puebla took place in the State of Puebla.

 

4.   Benito Juarez was Mexico’s President at that time.

 

5.   Mexico owed money to several Nations including Spain, England and France.

 

6.   Due to ongoing political unrest caused by many groups struggling for power, Mexico was not able to pay back its loans.

 

7.   On July 17, 1861 President Juarez issued a moratorium; all-foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years after which, payments would resume.

 

8.   The French invaded Mexico pursuing not only money but also land rights as payment for their loans.

 

 

9.   Benito Juarez sent General Ignacio Zaragoza to fortify the City of Puebla and repel the French invaders, which he did successfully.

 

10.       With the help of the Mexican Conservative party, Napoleon III imposed Maximilian of Hapsburg as Mexico’s emperor in 1864.

 

11.        Benito Juarez slowly regained power and in 1867 finally entered Mexico City where he installed a legitimate government and reorganized his administration.

 

12.        This was the triumph of the Mexican Republic.

 

13.           In the Mexican-French war of 1862-66, 35,000 French landed in Mexico, of whom 1,180 were killed in action, 2,559 wounded of which 549 died. 32,000 Mexicans died.   

 

14.           “It’s not a Mexican holiday, not an American holiday, but an American-Mexican holiday.” Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands

 

 


 

Qué Chula es Puebla

At the foot of the legendary Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes is the majestic, peaceful city of Puebla.

They say that Puebla, a lovely colonial city, was entrusted to the angels when it was founded, and this is the source of its name: Puebla of the Angels.

Those of us who live in Mexico City are privileged to be near to Puebla, just an hour and a half away by a modern highway.

On May fifth, 1862, Puebla was the scene of one of the historical events that fill Mexicans with pride: the victory of our army over the French army, which was the biggest in the world at the time.

This success would not have been achieved without the heroic participation of the Zacapoazxtlas, the courageous natives of the region, who joined with the young General Ignacio Zaragoza, appointed by President Benito Juárez to defend the land from the French invasion.

Without knowing military strategy, they armed themselves with sticks and machetes, and overcame the French, ennobling the name of Mexico. From that year on, their feat has been commemorated on the 5th of May every year.

Taking advantage of the fact that another anniversary of this very important event was approaching, we had the opportunity to spend a marvelous weekend in Puebla.

When we arrived, we went directly to where the famous battle took place: the Loreto and Guadalupe forts. They are half-destroyed constructions now, but the idea of being at the exact place where  an event of such importance for our country was most exciting.

After staying there a while, we decided to wander about Puebla, appreciating the avenues and the colonial buildings, which are the best representation of colonial Mexico.

We went downtown. There we saw the typical town square or “zócalo“, with its bandstand, fountains and doves that fluttered all around. To one side, the great cathedral, the loveliest that the Spaniards built in Mexico.

Cinco de Mayo Word Search, Find The Words and Complete the Hidden Message!

 

A L B A B A T A L L A I D N E
O Z E E P U E B L A N J G O L
M Y O A N Y S O A D I U R E T
J A A G L I Q U E T Z A O L T
D M X M A B T P P Q G R A O A
H J L I Y R E O C P U E L P B
T E O E M N A U T P A Z T A U
B A K T D I B Z P M D H X N H
C T J E E Y L I N D A S A Y C
E O N M Y R P I K X L F O N N
O C I X E M O S A V U Z P V E
E G E H Y Z A L U N P O A C R
O C N I C Y Q R C L E Y C O F
E A C P W C S N Y I N T A Q I
Q K W H D V Y G V F O I Z F R

 

 

 

BATTLE BENITO CINCO
FRENCH GUADALUPE INDEPENDENCE
JUAREZ LORETO MAXIMILIAN
MAYO MEXICO NAPOLEON
PUEBLA ZACAPOAXTLA ZARAGOZA

 

 

 

 

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