It's strange being in a country where not only do they not recognize or celebrate the holidays that have made up your life (think, Labor and Memorial Day, MLK Jr., etc.), but that there are holidays of which they have no idea of their existence (they don't bother to name their holidays other than Christmas, Boxing Day and Easter - they're all just known as Bank Holiday - and there are a lot of them). Take Cinco de Mayo for example. While not an official holiday in either the US or Mexico it is generally recognized (if incorrectly as the Mexican Independence day) and celebrated. Cue the tacos and beer (I'll take a Dos Equis, por favor).
The state flag of Puebla, Mexico
Neil and I celebrated his inaugural Cinco de Mayo whilst in Madison, albeit a few days early, with plenty of Mexican-style BBQ (seriously, corn tortillas on the grill, you haven't lived until you've tried it), several salsas, guacamole, margaritas and dos equis. Not to mention great friends, beautiful weather and even a little Spanish-speaking. It was a beautiful evening, and it was interesting to watch someone celebrate a holiday that they didn't know existed until a few days earlier. It just goes to show that good friends, good food, good conversation and a few dirty jokes transcend cultures and borders and I thoroughly recommend it as a formal foreign relations policy. Seriously. Add a little booze and I'm positive this whole Middle-East thing could be worked out in no time.
I've scoured the British countryside (well, okay the grocery stores where I live) in the attempts to find decent (because that is all you can ask for here) Mexican ingredients, and luckily I've discovered a few secrets. The first is that at the Borough Market in London there is a stall that sells real, honest-to-goodness Mexican ingredients that are so delicious that I don't even mind paying for them what I would pay for the entire Mexican grocery at home. If I find the inspiration any time soon, I'll post a recipe for pulled pork (made in the slow cooker!) Mexican style that is delicious, easy, and most importantly - able to be assembled with ingredients found in English shops. Yum yum. You'll just have to come back at a later date to check out my blog (again!) to see if it's been updated. Check out the recipes section.
When some friends come up for the weekend I'm planning a Mexican feast and I can't wait. So instead of an on-the-day Cinco de Mayo celebration this year, I'll be celebrating it twice, on both sides of the pond. Once a little early and once a little late. Once with some folks from Mexico and once with some folks who have never heard of the holiday, but both times with good food, good friends and good fun.