Think you know everything about Texas, Mexico, and our interwoven history? Maybe not. The holiday on September 16th isn’t simply for margaritas and street tacos. It is about independence; specially, independence from Spain. This month, we invite you to reach beyond typical tex-mex and into food with deep tradition and visit one of Texas’s multiple Mexican cultural centers.
Diez y Seis de Septiembre is a significant Mexican national holiday celebrated across Texas.
We dug deep into the history this time on the Texicureans Trail. So, if you’re reading for the recipe, you may want to skip to the end. But we think it’s more fun on the journey. Read on for some celebration destinations and an authentic recipe for home.
In 1803, French Emperor Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the American President Thomas Jefferson to raise war funds. With these raised funds, in 1808, Napoleon invaded Spain and put his little brother, Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne as King José I. Of course, this did not set well with Spain or Spaniards in the New World.
The fever of freedom from French kings and Spanish overlords ignited into rebellion, and a priest, Miguel Hidalgo, is credited with starting the Mexican War of Independence. He issued his “Cry of Dolores,” on September 16, 1810 calling for an end to 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico. He also championed a redistribution of land and racial equality for thousands of Indian and Mestizo peasants. Father Hidalgo’s cause was so popular that the letters of his name were rearranged to name the new Texas town of Goliad.
Spain defeated Napoleon in 1813 and seized back the throne. The Mexican War of Independence continued, inspiring Texans to seize the opportunity to free themselves from Spain and Mexico as well.
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center – Austin
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center hosts “Viva Mexico”, Yoga, Dance and other events and programs. Housed in downtown Austin on the Colorado river in what has become known as the Rainey District. This annual event showcases visual art, dance, and musical performances that explore Mexico’s history through cultural art traditions. Viva México celebration will be on Saturday, September 17th from 5-9pm and tickets are free.
I caught up with Michelle Rojas, the Culture and Arts Education Manager and walked through the beautiful Sam Coronado Gallery. Michelle gave the historical background of the 15-year-old center. Currently showcasing San Antonio artist Blas Lopez, exhibits change out every few months. Embarking on a multi-million-dollar expansion, the center will close in a few months for approximately 2 years, and will be taking their exhibits on the road to underserved communities.
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
600 River St.
Austin, TX 78701
Instituto Cultural de Mexico – San Antonio
Instituto Cultural de Mexico was created for the purpose of enhancing the friendship between the peoples of Mexico and of the United States of America through a better understanding of their cultural values. Located in Hemisfair Plaza in San Antonio, 2 galleries showcase art and culture on a rotating basis. Admission is free!
A fun plan is to arrive close to opening time of 10:00 (paid parking is at the corner of S. Alamo and Nueva). Enjoy the exhibits and then trot across the street to Box St. All Day “a glow up from their popular food truck and catering company The Box Street Social”. Choose from their variety of espresso bar, craft cocktails, local beer and then order up from their “brunch all day menu”. I loved their team encouraged lingering conversations.
CLICK HERE for Mexican Cultural Institute (Instituto Cultural De Mexico)
600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205
Chiles en Nogada – Celebrate at Home!
Chiles en Nogada (Poblano Chile Peppers in Pecan Sauce) is the perfect dish to prepare at home to celebrate Diez Y Seis de Septiembre. Colorful and rich with meaning, this dish has both the history and the presentation. This is a traditional recipe in Mexico and if you ask around in Texas, everyone’s Grandma makes the best one.
Helen Hovestadt grew up in Mexico City and is sharing her version of Chiles en Nogada with Texicureans! Food lovers looking for a different experience will enjoy these heavenly flavors. This recipe is from Helen’s mother, with a few tweaks of her own. Isn’t that how we all do it?
Presentation. This dish honors the Mexican Flag with the three colors, green (poblano pepper), white (nutty creamy sauce) and red (bright pomegranate seeds). There are many ways to prepare this dish, but it always must always have these signature ingredients: chile poblano pepper, meat stuffing picadillo, nut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. This is a rich mixture of tasty flavors that can be spicy hot, salty, tart, and semi-sweet. Yum!
History. General Agustin de Iturbide (later emperor of Mexico) asked the Augustinians nuns of the Convent of Santa Monica, in Puebla, Mexico, to prepare Chiles en Nogada for a banquet in celebration of the Treaty of Cordoba with last Spanish Mexican viceroy Juan O’Dnajou. The treaty was the triumph result of the Trigarante Army (Army of the Three Guarantees) for the total Mexican Independence from Spain.