Most Americans think of Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican independence, along the same lines as the 4th of July, with many participating in the festivities merely for an excuse to drink margaritas. However, Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates a victory in battle against French occupying forces. In the spring of 1861, A powerful French battalion swept across the countryside until they were stopped in The Battle of Puebla at the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe by a much smaller Mexican group on May 5th. Unfortunately, the following year, the French returned with thirty thousand troops, took over Mexico, and installed Maximilian I as Emperor.
While it is an important celebration in Puebla, in other areas of
Mexico it is somewhat less popular. Mexican Independence Day, a
completely separate holiday, is celebrated on September 16th.
Tequila is the national drink of Mexico, a potent spirit made from
the blue agave. Like champagne, which can only legally be produced
in the Champagne region of France, tequila must be derived from
agave grown only in very specific parts of Mexico. As the drink’s
popularity has continued to rise throughout the world, Mexico has
tried to maintain its control, claiming tequila is a “geographically
indicated product” under intellectual property rights law. It seems
other countries may soon be producing tequila, particularly China,
which has areas that mimic Mexico’s very specific climate and soil.
A common misconception about tequila is that the bottle should
feature a worm. This actually holds true only for mezcal, a similar
drink made from agave. The worm is actually the larva of a moth
called the Hypopta agavis that routinely infests agave. While there
are some who make the claim that the worm somehow improves the
flavor, it is more likely just a marketing ploy.