Why Barrio Cafe's Silvana Salcido Esparza Won't Be Partying on Cinco de Mayo

Written by Silvana Salcido Esparza

Recently, I was opening my business mail when it hit me like it ton of bricks. There it was, the first reminder that it's just around the corner. The solicitation read, "Don't get caught short, order your porta-pots now for Cinco de Mayo."

You see, it's the same bullshit story year after year. I start to hear the Cinco de Mayo radio ads for those crazy parties that even include wet tee shirt contests, and it drives me right into LOCA overdrive.

I want to be clear and to the point: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day.

In fact, it's a rather small celebration that — in that country — comes and goes without much fanfare, except that most of the Mexicanos remember to eat mole on that day. This rich and exotic Poblano dish, that many times is made with over 30 ingredients, comes from Puebla, Mexico.

Also from Puebla is the small observance of a military battle that's been turned into a major holiday by those who want to make money. On May 5, 1862, in the beautiful state of Puebla, around 2,000 Mexican soldiers defeated three times as many French soldiers, most of who were handicapped by diarrhea.

Can you say, "Gracias, Montezuma?"

The true Mexicano eats the succulent celebratory dish, Chiles en Nogada. Mexico's most popular pepper, the mild Poblano, is stuffed with an array of dried and fall fruits then finished with the patriotic colors of the Mexican flag with the red of sweet pomegranates, the white of a succulent almond cream sauce and the green of the national treasure, cilantro.

But they do that on el Diez y Seis de Septiembre, September 16, Mexico's actual Independence Day.

On May 5, the celebration is puro Americano, with folks north of the border gorging themselves on such un-authentic Mexican dishes as nachos, fajitas, chimichangas, burritos and "cheese crisps." And all of the tequila, margaritas and Mexican beer they can get their hands on, enough to complete their Cinco de Drinko celebration.

At my little hole-in-the-wall restaurant you will not find wet t-shirt contest, dollar Coronas or even extra toilets. Instead on Cinco de Mayo, without much fanfare we will be eating mole.

On September 16th, now that's another pinche story...orale!

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at