The Mexican crest

Did You Know? Some national symbols in Mexico are not what they seem

This month, Mexico celebrates her birthday, the anniversary of her independence from Spain. On the evening of September 15, the annual El Grito ceremony is held in town plazas all across the country. For several days prior to this celebration, town plazas are besieged by vendors selling national flags in a tide of nationalistic fervor. The story […]

Continue Reading
Photo by David McCollam

The cuisine of the Yucatan: a gastronomical tour of the Maya heartland

The Mexican state of Yucatan, located on the peninsula of the same name, is the home of one of the most distinctive regional cuisines in the country. A long tradition of fine dining, going back to the ancient Maya and incorporating sophisticated European dishes, is very much in evidence in the cities, towns and villages […]

Continue Reading
The Battle of Calderon Bridge (Tony Burton)

Did you know? Independence battle map is upside down

The battle in question is the Battle of Calderon Bridge (Batalla del Puente de Calderon), fought just outside Guadalajara in January 1811 as part of Mexico’s fight for Independence. The decisive battle was waged on the morning of Thursday, January 17. Imagine the scene. One side, led by Ignacio Allende, had some eighty thousand ill-equipped […]

Continue Reading

Tehuana Mamas Cook Up Magic: Food and Fiestas in the Isthmus

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Oaxaca is the tremendous difference between one region of the state and another. The sierras which crisscross it form natural boundaries between enclaves of culture which have existed since pre-Hispanic times. One of the most unique and charismatic of these is a group known as istmeños, inhabitants of the Isthmus of […]

Continue Reading

Fabulous frijoles: Mexico’s versatile legumes

When asked by the New York Times magazine to write about the most important contribution of the past millennium, Italian author Umberto Eco chose the humble bean. In How the Bean Saved Western Civilization, Eco points out that in the five centuries after the year 1,000 A.D. Europe’s population nearly tripled, and the amount of […]

Continue Reading
Fuchsia fulgens

Did you know? Many common garden flowers originated in Mexico

Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812-1871) came from a long line of gardeners and had gardening in his genes. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on June 18, 1812, he worked in Paris, at the Jardin des Plantes, before moving to England to work in the U.K. Horticultural Society’s Chiswick gardens in London. Keen to travel even further afield, […]

Continue Reading
Primitive tequila still (Lumholtz, 1897)

Did You Know? Tequila dates from the sixteenth century

In 1897, Carl Lumholtz, the famous Norwegian ethnologist, who spent several years living with remote Indian tribes in Mexico, found that the Huichol Indians in eastern Nayarit distilled agave juice using simple pot stills, the pots being quite unlike any other Spanish or pre-Columbian vessels. By 1944, Henry Bruman, a University of California geographer, had […]

Continue Reading