Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, is not Mexican Independence Day, as many assume. Rather it commemorates the Mexican's Army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is a relatively minor holiday in it's home, but in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a day to celebrate Mexican Culture, Heritage adn Cuisine.

In Mexico, the major celebrations are reserved for the State of Puebla with parades and military recreations. But almost all sizable U.S. cities celebrate Cinco de Mayo in one way or another with the largest taking place in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Houston. The day is marked with parades and parties featuring Mariachi and Mexican folk dancers.

  Mexican cuisine is considered one of the world's greatest rivaling Chinese, French and Italian in complexity and finesse. Mexican gifts to the culinary world include tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla. Combine these riches with rice, beef, pork and chicken from Spain as well as spices from the African and Asian traditions and you can see why Mexican cooking in an international adventure.

Regional cuisines exist all over the country with the most famous hailing from Oaxaca, Veracruz and the Yucatan Peninsula. It has been said that you can tell where someone is from based on their recipe for mole, a rich and delicious sauce. The latest trend to cross the border is Mexican street food made famous by tv host Bobby Flay.

  Mariachi is more than just music, it is a style. Like the cuisine, Mariachi includes indigenous music played with rattles, drums and flutes combine with violins, guitars and brass introduced from Spain. But Mariachi more than music. It is dance, food and even the clothes that each member wears. After the Mexican Revolution many large houses had to let their musicians go and the mariachi was left to wander the streets, playing for free.

It is not known exactly where the word "mariachi" came from. It might the wood that the dance platform is built from, or perhaps it is from a local religious image referred to as Maria H (pronounced Maria-Ache). Others suggest it comes from the French word marriage relating to the bands appearence at weddings. Now Mariachi is big business. Each year Guadalajara hosts the International Mariachi Festival. A ten day event with over 500 bands!