Mexico isn’t doing so hot these days. Not only does the country have an out of control drug cartel problem, now there’s this whole swine flu thing, which many people in the world are calling “Mexican flu.” Tourism to Mexico has all but shut down in the past week, and their economy is reeling. But it’s Cinco de Mayo. Holler! In honor of the holiday, after the jump, we countdown the top five things we love about Mexico.
- Mmm …Tacos. In Mexico, the word “taco” is as generic as “sandwich.” Tacos are known as “the most democratic of Mexican foods” because everyone eats ‘em. The first recorded eating of a taco in Mexico was in 1520, when colonizer Hernan Cortes cooked a banquet for his captains. But tacos go back even earlier; Aztecs used rolled up tortillas to scoop up fish or insects. The first recorded eating of a taco in America was in 1914, when a California woman deep fried beef chili inside a tortilla. [What’s Cooking America]
- Life’s a Beach. Mexico puts the “play” in “playa.” There are beaches on the fringe of the jungle and beaches to relax on after exploring nearby Mayan ruins. Playa Zicatela is a world class beach that’s a must for surfers—and those that like to watch them. Punta Mita has white sand and coral reefs. Playa del Carmen is a favorite of hip beach-goers the world round since everything is within walking distance. And Tulum is pure paradise.
- Brightly-Colored Clothes. Mexicans favors garb so bright it makes M.I.A.’s wardrobe look dull. Vivid yellows, pinks, blues, greens, reds, and oranges are popular, and geometric prints, floral designs, and village scenes embellishes everything. So when picking a Cinco de Mayo ensemble, more is more. If you drift apart from your friends, they’ll be able to spot your hot pink outfit no matter how much Tequila they’ve had.
- Amazing Movies. Mexican cinema is going through a Renaissance. Salma Hayek went from telenovela star to major Hollywood player. Movies like “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “Amores Perros” packed art house theaters and made actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Deigo Luna major lust objects. (Their latest, “Rudo Y Cursi” opens Friday night.) Plus, directors like Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Babel”), Alfonso Cuarón (“Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”), and Guillermo del Toro (now in New Zealand directing “The Hobbit”) have made a big splash with their grit and style.
- The Beverages. Think you know your Mexican drink trivia? Think again, amigo. The salt and lime that accompanies a shot of Tequila isn’t just a party trick—the combo was used to ward off infection from Spanish influenza in the last century. (Perhaps it can prevent swine flu?) It seems there’s no better way to toast Mexico than with a margarita, right? Turns out, margs are linked to the country because during Prohibition, thirsty crowds flooded to Mexico for their fave American cocktail, the Daisy. How do you say “daisy” in español? Margarita!