Here’s to the country that gave us christophene, or otherwise known as: christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton (although I heard it pronounced as mee-lee ton by a friend of mine from the bayou’s of Louisiana), chu-chu, cidra, guatila, pimpinela, pipinola choushoute, choko, chowchow pataste, tayota, pear squash, and chayote. The same country gave us chocolate (actually cocoa but that’s where it comes from), the coyote, tomato, pine nuts, the avocado, the world’s first really adequate sun hat and corn. Not to mention the agave plant from which they extract its juice to produce tequila.
Here’s to the country that gave us the taco and the enchilada. It’s the same one that put some good peppery sauces on and in our food to make it bright and tasty. The rest of that stuff which is called border food is made up ‘gringo’ food sold by marketers mimicking the real thing. As it turns out there is quite a bit one can do with some masa, chili peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, ground or chopped meat, onions, a little lemon, and probably several other herbs and spices which I can’t remember right now.
Here’s to the country that put bright colors and very loud brassy music with a definite beat to it and the next coming international super holiday of Cinco de Mayo (which really isn’t the day of independence for Mexico) into our lives. Ole.
Here’s to the country that gave us something that the world over likes and uses for various reasons. Use of this stuff reads like a commercial for a cure all. In one story it made a U.S. Army captain super rich and started an industry which is still growing and changing today. Actually it was one Mexican person that started it all. Antonio de Padua Maria Severino Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez de Libron is otherwise known as General Santa Anna to the people of the United States. While in exile in New York City he had come up with an idea of using pith from a grass that grew along the Rio Grande River from which children would gouge out and chew, as a substitute for rubber for tire making. The more accepted story is that an assigned aide de camp by the name of Thomas Adams purchased a ton of this chicle and tried to turn it into rubber. When he couldn’t get it to work he turned it around and made chewing gum out of it.
This started Chicklets Chewing Gum Company. In another version of the story involved the Wrigley family. They were producing among other things some baking soda. Wrigley added a free piece of chewing gum in each box which very rapidly started to sell on its own. He just dropped Santa Anna who was left penniless.
In the Adams version General Santa Anna returned to Mexico to die there two years later. In the Wrigley version Santa Anna never made it back and died in New York where he is currently buried. Everybody knows that everything that is printed in the internet is the absolute truth so one can pick what one wants to believe.
Here’s to the country that gave the world two very controversial writers who are a must for every student of Literature, Philosophy, and Social History from any country. The first is Octavio Paz Lozano. A winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990 which culminated an extremely varied career as a writer of poetry and prose, a teacher in several countries and a person of deep thought and not just a person with a way with words.
“There can be no society without poetry,
But society can never be realized as poetry,
It is never poetic.
Sometimes the two terms seek to break apart. They cannot.”
People will argue with me about my vote for the other literary gift that Mexico has given to the world. However, in the interests of free thought, action on belief, and creativity, I feel the world would be a better place if everyone would read the words of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz also known in her own life time as the tenth muse. As a member of a cloister she thought and wrote of things way outside of her own purview straight from what some would consider an over-active imagination. Her delivery is said to be that equal to Walt Whitman or Emily Dickerson. I think she was a feminist crying to be revealed. Among other things she was very popular with European women writers and philosophers of her time due to her ‘Hermeticism’ stated beliefs and writings.
Here’s to the country that produces a proud yet mild mannered people. They welcome guests to their country and forgive the arragence of some. They take their time and energy to help these guests not for money but for a satisfaction of helping another soul. Their entire culture is centered around the family. The head of the family is the father who is also, in most cases, the only bread winner. In poorer families the eldest son is recruited to support that family and allow his younger siblings to go further than he. The mother is the glue that holds the inner family together. Many times with
other siblings gathered around the family patriot. This includes in-laws and cousins sometimes two and three generations done. Foreigners muct understand that in Mexico, the family comes first, then the job or family business. There is no way for any person to affect any cut in those ties.
Should you or yours be lucky enough to be invited to a Mexican’s home take heed to score high on their ‘compradre’ list. Please show up at least a half an hour late. Meet everyone there. Greet the ladies but only shake hands with the men. Women can do a hand-onforearm thing. You might want to bring a gift. If its flowers make sure they are bright and gay but not yellow or red. Yellow is the color of death and red is unseemly. Leave a little on the plate if you eat. That shows that you were served enough and you won’t insult anyone by having them thinking that they starved you. Depart after giving farewells to everyone present.
The Mexican culture is made up of mostly mesoamerican heritage with 300 years of Old World Spanish heratiage, flavored with just a bit of French and German as influenced by the rest of the North American peoples. Please enjoy your time in Mexico and make it worth while to come back to.