5 Things I learnt at Experience Mexico in Ottawa on Cinqo de Mayo

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Last weekend, I partnered with the Mexican Tourism Board to immerse myself in “Experience Mexico” in Ottawa, a cultural and celebratory event held in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

I love everything about the Mexican culture: the food, the people, the music, the history, the beaches. What I find interesting is that there is so much Mexican culture ingrained in our everyday lives, that we almost forget the power of its influence. Think about it…textiles, avocado toast, Cholula, tacos, sugar skulls (Calavera), and Lucha libre (Mexican wrestling), just to name a few.

It was such an honour to be part of the celebrations and to talk to such wonderful people representing different regions of Mexico. And like any good student, I wanted to take a minute to share a few of the things that I discovered.

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Tamarind everything.

I actually love the taste of tamarind, but never really knew what it was until I researched it. Tamarind grows on a leguminous tree and is a pod-like fruit, almost resembling peanuts. I discovered that Mexicans love adding this sweet and tart flavour to almost everything: from candy to hot sauces. Most people don’t realize that it’s a secret ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.

I bought some flavoured Habanero hot sauces from the Olmex booth, and the Tamarind one is my new obsession.

Why haven’t I been to Riviera Maya yet?

I’ve travelled to Mexico a number of times. My first time visiting Mexico, was for an epic all-inclusive grad trip to Puerto Vallarta in high school. Lots of amazing memories created and drama was had.

When I was on maternity leave, and Victor was only 10 months old, we rented a beach house near La Paz with my husband’s family and lived amongst the locals for a few weeks. I learnt that this is being a traveler, not a tourist. I remember going to the grocery store and buying whatever seasonal vegetable I could find and asking folks how to prepare it. For example, we grilled Nopal on the BBQ, an edible cactus with many health benefits. This was an amazing and remarkable trip.

Local veggies we bought at the grocery store!
Cows would pass by on the private beach every day. It was breathtaking!

Recently, we did an all-inclusive family trip to Cancun. The beaches and the water are truly breathtaking, but something tells me that I still need to go back and cross off Riviera Maya from my bucket list!

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

Actually, Mexican Independence Day is no joke on my birthday: September 16! Technically, May 5th is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.

I guess I now have two reasons to celebrate on my birthday! Maybe I can do it over a Margarita on the sandy white beaches of Riviera Maya (Dear Universe, can you hear me?…).

Why am I only hearing about Puebla now?

Puebla is a modern bustling city in Mexico with loads of culture and history, only about 100 km away from Mexico City. It boasts over 25 museums and is highly regarded for its gastronomy. Minus the beaches, this city is an Instagramable heaven, complete with its colonial buildings covered in painted ceramic tiles. I can only image what my feed would look like! The younger crowds in Puebla are known for building the city’s thriving art and nightlife scene.

Mexico hearts Canada.

It was heartwarming to witness the love and appreciation Mexico has for Canada. They truly value their relationship with Canada and see many opportunities for growth in the future. And I personally, cannot wait to experience it!

¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva Canada!


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