Mestizo Gastronomy Festival and Mexican Independence Day:
A press release announcing a festival to celebrate Mexican Independence Day at Mestizo got me reading up on Google. Of course we’ve all heard of American Independence Day, but in my ignorance it never occured to me that Mexico celebrated their very own. I HAVE read a little about the Aztec Empire, but it’s always been in connection with chocolate . And of course, if I’d thought a little more deeply what I read when I was busy researching the origin of the chocolate I tried in Modica, Sicily, I might just have connected. But, I was far too obsessed at the time with the history of chocolate.
The campaign for the Spanish Conquest of Mexico began in February 1519, and was declared victorious on August 13, 1521, when a coalition army of Spanish forces and native Tlaxcalan warriors captured Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. At the time, the Aztecs were convinced that Cortés, the Spanish leader was a god, as the Spanish army brought horses and guns, which the Aztecs had never seen before. There’s a detailed and fascinating account on Wikipedia – which includes some of the omens that the Aztecs cited as being prophetic.
After three hundred years of Spanish rule, in 1810 the struggle for independence in Mexico started as guerrilla warfare in a few isolated areas of the country. By 1820 the momentum had all but run out for the insurgents. Then, by a quirk of fate, one of the Loyalist leaders, Iturbide attempted to end the fighting by setting up a treaty, the Plan of Iguala. Rejected by the Spanish Conquistadors it had the result of unifying the people of Mexico, both Loyalists and Patriots. And when defeat for the Spanish Empire became inevitable, the Viceroy resigned leaving Mexico without any formal leadership. On the night of the May 18, 1822, a mass demonstration in Mexico City demanding that Iturbide be crowned Emperor resulted in his coronation on the following day. And so, Mexico was freed from Spanish rule.
Ironically, or perhaps appropriately for a restaurant in London, Mestizo means a person who has both European and American Indian ancestry. But that won’t stop London’s leading Mexican restaurant celebrating independence day in an annual Gastronomic Festival that will last 10 days. Diners can experience the best culinary gems from 10 of Mexico’s states – all washed down with plenty of cold Corona and tequila. The celebrations culminate in a big Independence Day Party on 15 September, followed by the Curate la Cruda (cure the hangover) on 16 September. A good time is guaranteed for all!
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