The History of Cinco de Mayo

We Americans celebrate the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, in a very different way than in Mexico. In Mexico, May 5th is a day set aside to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862; and is celebrated in a more formal way with military parades. In the United States, we have put a very different twist on it as a day to celebrate Mexican-American culture.


My First Taco

It’s not surprising that as a kid growing up in Southwestern Virginia in the 70’s I didn’t experience my first taco until I attended a party hosted by my Spanish teacher Mrs. Lawson. Members of our Spanish Club were invited to her house once a year for a night filled with fun playing pool and eating tacos. I was so impressed with my first taco that Mrs. Lawson brought the recipe to school to me the following Monday.


My mom was equally impressed when we tried out the taco recipe at home, but my dad, who was more of a meat and potatoes guy, wasn’t so impressed. I remember the big deal he made about how messy his taco was when the shell broke apart and taco meat fell between his fingers, and how he threatened to use duct tape to hold his second taco together. For me, though, the mess was part of the glamor of eating such an exotic food. 😉

These days when given a choice for Mexican food, I’ll go with chicken fajitas every time. For a girl who thought tacos were exotic, you can only imagine the look on my face the first time a smoking plate of fajitas was carried my way.


How Margaritas Became My Drink of Choice

I vividly remember tasting my first margarita during the bartending class I took in college. Shhh, don’t tell my mom that I took the class or she will disown me. Growing up in a dry county in a rural part of Virginia, I was raised to believe there were only two types of drinkers, teetotalers and alcoholics. It wasn’t until I headed off to college that I realized that there’s also another group of drinkers, social drinkers.

I was intrigued by booze and learning to bartend appealed to me, most likely because the subject was taboo in my family. When I learned that a bar just south of the Virginia Tech campus offered Saturday afternoon bartending classes, I signed up. One of the many drinks we learned to make was a margarita. I still have my notes from the class tucked in a cookbook in my kitchen pantry.


In reality, I wasn’t much of a drinker in college because I didn’t like the taste of beer or wine, both of which were legal since I was eighteen. I turned twenty-one during my senior year which opened up a wider range of possibilities in the form of mixed drinks; however, many bars didn’t serve liquor and if they did, a cocktail wasn’t necessarily in my budget.

Cocktails made a resurgence in the late 90’s and for the first time in about twenty years, a drink caught my interest. It came in the form of slushy citrusy sweetness from a self-serve frozen margarita machine at a friend’s house, and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why I’d waited so long to have another margarita.

These days I prefer my margaritas on the rocks and without a salted rim. Chances are good that if go out with friends, I’ll order a margarita before dinner. They’ve also become my speciality for Friday happy hours when entertaining at home, but I’ve also got several other cocktails recipes that I rotate.


Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

A celebration where I can enjoy Mexican food and a margarita is a day I don’t want to miss, even during a global pandemic. Normally, I make homemade chicken fajitas and margaritas for Cinco de Mayo; however, last week I wasn’t able to find fresh chicken at the grocery store so our plan is to do carryout from our favorite TexMex restaurant. Our governor is even allowing cocktails to be sold with carryout so we just might order margaritas to go as well. Desperate times call for desperate measures, indeed!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


  • • Do you have Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo?
  • • What’s your favorite Mexican food?
  • • Margaritas: frozen or on the rocks? Rim salted or not?