This year, 2010, is a doubly big year to celebrate for our neighbors to the south. September 16 marks the bicentennial celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day—the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain.
Then in November, Mexico will be in a party mood once again, as the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution will be observed on the 20th of the month. A centennial and bicentennial in the same year—a time to celebrate indeed. Mexico’s president Felipe CalderÃ³n has proclaimed the entire year as “AÃ±o de la Patria,” or “Year of the Nation.”
Independence Day 1810
On the morning of Sunday, September 16, 1810, the cleric and teacher Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, an old man who was well-to-do, influential, and was priest of the village of Dolores, freed Mexican-Creole patriots who had been imprisoned by Spanish officials. Hidalgo then locked up the Spanish authorities. Calling his parishioners to mass, he urged them from the portal of his church to join a ‘cause’ dedicated to the overthrow of bad government. This exhortation is officially known as the ‘Grito de Dolores’ and is considered the high point in Mexican history.
Viva la Revolution of 1910
For most of Mexico’s developing history, a small minority of the people were in control of most of the country’s power and wealth, while the majority of the population worked in poverty. The start of the Mexican Revolution is celebrated on November 20, commemorating the day in 1910 when Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa and Pascual Orozco led the first insurrectionist attack against the government of General Diaz, who had ruled for more than 30 years. The revolution eventually led to the rise of a more democratic Mexico.
Click here for coverage of this year’s Bicentennial celebrations in Mexico, including photos and video.
Tequila: A Very Mexican Way to Celebrate with Food and Drink
The origins of tequila go back much further than even Mexico’s struggle for independence from Spain. They are deeply rooted in Mexican culture dating back to the age of the Aztecs—some two thousand years ago.
The Spaniards later introduced them to distillation, and the resulting elixir, which at first was referred to as Mezcal Wine. It wasn’t until recently (in terms of centuries) that tequila became tequila. It was a source-of-origin kind of thing. Tequila and Mezcal are effectively the same thing. Tequila is made from only Weber Azul Agave plants, commonly called Blue Agave, and it comes only from the state of Jalisco, where the town of Tequila is located.
Tequila has the complexity of character of a great cognac, with even more subtle flavor notes and nuances than more socially accepted red wines. Unlike grapes, agave plants take 8–10 years to mature, and are spent when harvested. Crop planning is essential to the supply. When tequila first started becoming really trendy in the 1990s, many producers ran out. PatrÃ³n was one such example—it sold like crazy and then they ran out for a couple of years—at least supply was not sufficient to supply the growing U.S. market. PatrÃ³n even launched an apologetic ad campaign when the company reintroduced it.
The name ‘Tequila’ has been protected by the Mexican government since 1974 and its use is limited to products distilled from agave grown only in certain regions of Mexico.
In honor of the Mexican Bicentennial and Centennial in 2010, our Food Channel Chefs have selected five Tequila Celebration recipes—three cocktail recipes and two tequila dishes.
As they say in the restaurants…may we start you off with something to drink? A margarita may seem like an obvious choice, but our Blood Orange Margarita is a bit out of the ordinary. It looks stunningly beautiful for one thing. Did you know this traditional Mexican drink is now the numero uno cocktail in the USA? It’s true.
Here’s another traditional beverage ideal for bicentennial/centennial celebrations. Sangrita is a classic Mexican aperitif usually served chilled along with a shot of tequila. We suggest take it a step further and serve this spicy drink with a “shot” of lime juice, too, to form the three colors of the Mexican flag (as shown above).
If you’re burning to try something a little edgier, how about a Burning Love cocktail? This little baby has tequila, brandy, Sambuca and coffee beans. You serve it hot…then set it on fire! Olé.
A creamy, chilled Tequila-Avocado Soup serves as a delightful first course. It would be especially welcome on one of these warm September evenings.
Our delectable Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp, served on a skewer, completes our salute to Mexico. Let us also raise a glass and toast its national spirit, tequila!