Happy Cinco de Mayo amigos! Today we shall all celebrate the 1862 Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of the Puebla. Now that you have some new information to dislodge from your brain with that tequila binge later, let’s take a look at some of our favorite things from our neighbors to the south.
Danny Trejo was born in California, so while technically not Mexican he does come from a Mexican family. Besides, if I hadn’t included that disclaimer many of you would not have known the difference anyway. You may recognize Trejo from Machete, Breaking Bad, Anchorman, Spykids, and every movie ever made! Trejo has been a constant on big and small screens for the last 20 years and shows no signs of slowing down. Trejo’s story is an inspirational one, as seen in this Grantland piece from 2013, and is worth toasting to tonight over a Corona.
El Guapo is the fearless leader of the banditos in the movie The Three Amigos. El Guapo leads his motley band of miscreants throughout the Mexican countryside plundering villages, fighting priests, and getting a plethora of piÃ±atas for his birthday. He proves to be quite a formidable opponent for heroes Dusty Bottoms, Ned Nederlander, and Lucky Day in this comedy classic.
Cinco de Mayo is one of the busiest days of the year for U.S. Mexican restaurants. Tacos, salsa, guacamole, tortas, and many other Mexican delicacies are on prominent display during this day. Whether your preference is a dine-in restaurant, a Taco Bell drive thru, or a taco truck, it is a must to get out and enjoy the beautiful gift that is Mexican food.
Enhancing the visit to your favorite Mexican restaurant is the mariachi band. If the semi-authentic Mexican food doesn’t put in the proper state of mind to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, these minstrels surely will. Sometimes obnoxiously loud but never dull, the mariachi band captures the spirit of Mexican merriment.
Salma Hayek rose to prominence after appearances in Desperado and From Dusk til Dawn to become one of the most well known Mexican actresses in the world. Hayek has since become more involved behind the camera as a producer and director. She most recently appeared in the Grown Ups movies with Adam Sandler and friends, which definitely adds to the watchability of said movies.
Mexico Trilogy/Mariachi Trilogy/Desperado Trilogy
Pick whichever name you like but the trio of El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico make up one of the best Sunday couch potato afternoons one can have. Mysterious assassins, revenge, Salma Hayek (see above), and the combo of Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino=good times by all. Cinco de Mayo is a perfect day to watch them for the first time or to revisit El Mariachi and his guitar case.
El Chupacabra is fairly new to world of mythical beasts, having only been first reported in 1995. The initial reports of el chupacabra came from Puerto Rico but quickly spread to Mexico. The animal is said to have a reptilian appearance with quills along its back and stand three to four feet tall. The most harrowing aspect of el chupacabra is that it kills its victims by sucking their blood, a la Dracula. There have been many instances of assumed chupacabras actually being dogs with mange. This explanation is no fun so for a better explanation of el chupacabra, watch this X-Files episode.
The product of the blue agave plant near the city of Tequila, the drink of the same name has become one of Mexico’s best known exports. It comes in a variety of cocktails (The Bloody Aztec, El Toro Loco, and Tequila Sour to name a few) and is now one of Blue Collar comedian Ron White’s favorite alcoholic beverages. He even has his own tequila company, Number Juan. While all that is good, my personal favorite use of tequila is the song “Tequila”, specifically this scene from The Sandlot.
Pancho Villa was a General of Mexican Revolutionary forces in the early twentieth century. He led 17 military engagements from 1911-1919 winning 11 of them. One of the great rogues of history, Pancho Villa was always fighting. During this time his alliances shifted often and by the end of his military campaigns he was even trying to unseat the leader, Venustiano Carranzo, he had helped put into power during the initial revolution. After Carranzo was assassinated, his replacement decided to avoid having this thorn in his side. A peace was negotiated which allowed Pancho Villa to retire with 25,000 acres in land, 500,000 gold pesos, a small militia, and a bodyguard of cavalry, not a bad 401(k) plan. In 1923 Pancho Villa himself was assassinated but has continued to live on as a Mexican icon.
Here at KSR there is a special appreciation for things done in the most ridiculous manner possible. Anyone who grew up with cable and had Univision probably came across SÃ¡bado Gigante at one time or another. Flipping through the channels there would always be something that would cause you to flip back just to make sure your eyes didn’t deceive you. At times it would appear to be a singing contest with bad singers and a guy in a mask eliminating them. Other times it would be a really fat guy wearing crazy clown makeup. I never knew what was going on but it almost always caught my eye. It was announced earlier this year that SÃ¡bado Gigante was ending its 53 year run, so celebrate Cinco de Mayo a little harder this year in memory of this bastion of ridiculousness.