mexican master

Cinco de Mayo is about to start, so let's make some things clear:

Hello there! Diego here! (That… that’s seriously my name.) As some of you may know, I am of Mexican origin, and I would like to make a few things clear about May 5th you may or may not be aware about.

1. Cinco de Mayo is NOT the date of the Independence of Mexico.

That’s right! Mexico celebrates its independence in September 16th, or more likely, the night of September 15th, when traditionally they make the traditional Grito de Independencia by midnight, which is a reenactment of the legend of the night revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called mass in 1810 for the people to rebel against the Spanish government.

“Cinco de Mayo” also known as “La Batalla de Puebla” (The Battle of Puebla) is a commemoration of a victory in the battle against French invaders that arrived from the port of the state of Veracruz. Albeit not a strategically decisive battle on the war, it is important on national pride as a moment in which a tiny new country without virtually any funds by the time of 1860s defeated such a super powerful army which were the French.

2. “Sombreros”.

Ah yes.

The “sombrero”.

Just to put it straight: Sombrero just means “hat” in Spanish; at least Mexican Spanish. We tend to call sombrero to any kind of hat, that is if we are not using the word “gorro/gorra” alternatively.

The “sombreros” you usually see in every single stereotype you may imagine are based a mixture of the charro outfit and the way poor proletariats would dress around the dawn of the 20th century whom also were an emblem of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. (Another national celebration that goes in November 20th.) Slavery was already illegal in Mexico, but these people were exploited in a disguised system in which the workers were paid (miserably) and all of their expenses would be controlled in stores they were only allowed to spend at; those stores were also owned by the proprietors of the land they worked at.

The stereotype has been so reflected in so many places inside and outside the border it has even been reclaimed by the Mexican people themselves.

“Oh, so is it okay for me to wear one?”


By the way when I mentioned “charros”, I mean a traditional type of horsemen that follow their own set of etiquettes and styles, and it’s also practiced by women who are not only beautiful but also super badass.

3. Maracas.



THEY ARE MORE OF A BRAZILIAN THING.EDIT: Actually no, they are not Brazlian at all either.

Much like the sombrero, if you “went to Mexico” (Tijuana, Cancún, Mazatlán, Rocky Point) and they gave you maracas with vivid colors on them, there is absolutely no cultural importance behind it as souvenir of Mexico. Mexicans love to point at, laugh, and exploit the cultural obliviousness of tourists. Especially American tourists.


4. The mustache.

This one is a bit strange, albeit kind of true in some regards.

The mustache is an international symbol of masculinity, and Mexico is a country full of machismo, albeit “caballerosidad” is also one of the qualities in the Mexican etiquette which involves respecting the autonomy and individual identity of women, always approach to a non-violent solution, and a general attitude of politeness to both men and women; that said it is not impossible for a Mexican to be misogynistic as well.

ANYWAY, the mustache is kind of a downhill-snowball stereotype that may have started in just seeing many Mexicans having a mustache, but so do a LOT of American males as well, so uhhhh… it’s a very strange label to pin on Mexicans over all.

5. Tequila.

I actually don’t mind if you drink tequila. You kinda support the economy of my country and it’s an actual cultural thing that I like it when it’s spread around.

Just remember that it is NOT drunk with a worm in it. That is mezcal. Its like tequila’s wilder cousin. And no, it has no mescaline.

6. Other stereotypes.

  • Sugar skulls are a cool thing, I guess. No, they have absolutely nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo, they are part of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is celebrated in November 1st.
  • “Do not drink the water” is a weird stereotype I have heard. I would not simply recommend you to drink untreated tap water anywhere. Period. We have water purifiers everywhere.
  • Mexico is what I call a “second world country”. It is not as developed and advanced as the United States, but it IS civilized in a great way we count with continuous technological developments and lots and lots of progressist enthusiasts.
  • Mexico is not proud of drug trafficking. It’s an extremely serious problem that has the entire country terrorized and I am really exhausted of all the attention they get from dumb Hollywood movies rather than the real Mexico. Do not talk about drugs. Do not talk about narcos. This is a very delicate topic that many people overlook the impact it’s had with Mexican people in their identity. Please.

  • I persist. Do not, seriously, DO NOT associate Mexican people with drug dealers, drug lords, “narcos”, or any other extension. If you seriously STILL wonder “what the big deal is”, I dare you to Google “narcos” on the image search and look at all the horrible things they do to the innocents. (It’s seriously fucked up and triggering with blood, gore, body horror shit.)
  • Mexican people have contributed with some groundbreaking contributions to science and technology and the way we are leading our lives. 
  • > Mario J. Molina is a chemist who discovered the causes of ozone depletion in the atmosphere.

    > Guillermo González Camarena patented the first trichromatic TV color transmitter in 1940. 8 years before Peter Carl Goldmark presented it to CBS and took most of the credit.

    > Luis Ernesto Miramontes co-developed “the pill”. Props.

    > Andrés Manuel del Río discovered vanadium in 1801 which is used to strengthen steel further and is applied from bicycles and hardware tools, to dental implants and jet engines.

  • Yes, Mexicans are actually laid back. No, they are not inherently lazy.
  • Mexican people are culturally masters of improvisation and creativity, this leads them to engineer creative solutions to everyday problems. Just felt like sharing this fact.

Ok so this is all I have right off the bat, and I wish you a happy Cinco de Mayo. Have fun, get drunk, party on; I don’t care, we don’t care. Just have these things on mind.

TL;DR: Please do not do/say anything racist.


During the 2017 Season, Rafael Nadal:

  • Current record: 3-3 (lost Australian Open, Mexican Open & Miami Masters)
  • Played Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem in 2 of the 6 Finals
  • Was ranked 9th going into the Aus. Open and is currently 4th
  • Won his 10th title in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and 5th title in Madrid
  • This is his 6th clay court tournament he’s won in a row since 2015
  • 2005 was the last time he won the same 3 tournaments in the same year (Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid)
  • That year (2005) he finished #2 in the world, had a record of 11-1 and won his first Grand Slam: the French Open.

So you walk into the new Korean joint around the corner and discover that (gasp) the head chef is a white guy from Des Moines. What’s your gut reaction? Do you want to walk out? Why?

The question of who gets to cook other people’s food can be squishy — just like the question of who gets to tell other people’s stories. (See: The whole controversy over the casting of the new Nina Simone biopic.)

For some non-white Americans, the idea of eating “ethnic cuisine” (and there’s a whole other debate about that term) not cooked by someone of that ethnicity can feel like a form of cultural theft. Where does inspiration end? When is riffing off someone’s cuisine an homage, and when does it feel like a form of co-opting? And then there’s the question of money: If you’re financially benefiting from selling the cuisine of others, is that always wrong?

When Chefs Become Famous Cooking Other Cultures’ Food

Photo: Sergi Alexander/Getty Images
Caption: Rick Bayless is a master of Mexican cuisine. He’s also a white guy from Oklahoma. Over the years, that has made him the target of criticism. 


Polaroids by Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Manuel Alvarez Bravo is generally recognized as one of the masters of modern photography, and as one of Mexico’s most significant artists. He is well known for his black and white images, therefore this selection of never-before-published Polaroids might be a surprise to those familiar only with his signature style. The simple design of the book–a single photograph per page, reproduced in the original Polaroid’s dimensions–creates an ideal context in which to enjoy this segment of Bravo’s work. Colette Alvarez Urbajtel, the photographer’s widow writes: “Although Manuel used a Hasselblad with special backing until his late career, when Polaroid cameras appeared on the market, he was quick to avail himself of their convenience and speed. He started taking black and white Polaroids with the appropriate fixtures, and then moved on to color. His work in color tended to be the result of some sudden impulse, when he had just supplied himself with materials or in quest of a particular effect. It might be at home, on the weekend, when there were people visiting, or when he wished to capture some prank of his daughters …” Beautifully reproduced, Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Polaroids reveals a playful, charming and spontaneous side of the great Mexican master of light and shade, and is the first book on his work published since his death in 2003. It will appeal to those interested in photography and Mexican art in general. [Amazon]

Discussed in Episode 2.20 with Sophie Barbasch


60 Degrees Mastercrafted - Houston, Texas

  • Tajito (60 Degrees Signature Cocktail) - a texas style mojito. texas moonshine, lime, mint and soda.
  • Seafood Campechana - shrimp lump crabmeat, piquant tomato sauce, capers, olives and plantain chips.
  • 60 Degrees Mastercrafted Interior
  • 60 Degrees Mastercrafted tools of the trade
  • Tejas Chili - avocado, pico de gallo, mexican crema, amaretto coffee.
  • Master Chef Fritz Gitschener
  • Seafood Cioppino - fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, jumbo lump crabmeat, lobster, crawfish, andouille, tomato, herbs and white wine.
  • Three Pork (Black Seal Rum Spareribs, Spicy Pork Sausage & Grilled Asian Braised Pork Belly)
  • Cowboy Steak served tableside - 30 oz. bone-in rib eye steak, chili corn sauce, fork smashed potatoes, vegetables, tobacco onion rings and avocado relish.
  • Slice of Heaven - angel food cake, meringue, housemade strawberry preserve, whipped cream and basil chips.
  • Whiskey over ice.

photography 2014 © debora smail