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Sombreros and Mariachis

Updated on August 20, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is often considered to be "independence day" for Mexico. It is celebrated primarily in the United States, but also in parts of Mexico. In the state of Puebla, it is known as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (the day of the battle of Puebla). It is such a prominent thing where I live, that I was quite surprised to learn that it is not universally celebrated in Mexico. In fact, September 16 is Independence Day for Mexico.

But hey! Any good excuse to celebrate with some colorful tradition is good enough for me! I love the very bright and colorful art that is used in all sorts of contexts. So I will talk about this. Then let's celebrate!

So this is all about some of the colorful music and art (especially art on clothing) of the folks from Mexico.

The sombrero on the left is one I picked up somewhere, but I don't remember where. Fancy sombreros are fun to see. This particular one makes a nice room decoration, but it is too small for my head!

Mariachis are musicians who perform traditional Mexican music. They often walk around in Mexican restaurants, or participate in other public affairs, They dress in fancy traditional clothing. Most are male, and if there is a woman, she wears the same dress as the men. They play trumpets, violins, and guitars primarily. There is often singing, which can be either male or female.

Sombrero - A bigger view

This sombrero is made of red felt, with elaborate embroidery and beads. I am very fond of it. I used to keep it on top of the organ, but when I put some other boxes there, I had to move it.

People often think of the sombrero as something people put over their faces when they take a siesta. A siesta is an afternoon nap. I don't know how many people take siestas, but I imagine people who have to work in the hot sun find it necessary. It helps them recover from the heat.

Children with Mural

This is one of my favorite pictures. The mural is located on 4th Avenue in Tucson, Arizona. Twice a year, we have the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, where people come from all over to sell arts and crafts. These two children were attending the street fair. The boy has a simple sombrero on his head.

The murals in Tucson are very beautiful. I will publish more photos of them soon.

La Parilla Suiza - The Swiss Mill

La Parilla Suiza is my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. They actually serve Mexico City cuisine. There are three in Tucson, and one or two in Phoenix that I know about, and of course, the originals in Mexico City. The photo is the door of one of the restaurants in Tucson. At the top is a medallion with a stylized Swiss mill on it. The contrasting earth colors are typical of the way Mexicans in Arizona like to paint their homes.

Mexico City cuisine is distinguished by the fact that they use Swiss cheese in many of their dishes. Most restaurants in Tucson are Sonoran Cuisine, which uses cheddar cheese.

La Parilla Suiza has the best salsa (sauce) in town, bar none. They serve three kinds of complimentary salsa with corn chips. Pico de Gallo (beak of the rooster) consists of fresh raw tomatoes and onions, chopped into square pieces, with pieces of jalapeño peppers and a bit of cilantro or parsley, not sure which. That one is my favorite. The ingredients are so fresh. I like a little bit of corn chip with my salsa, and I heap it on, and sometimes they end up bringing me more, simply because I eat it all.

My next favorite is the green salsa, which I would personally call salsa verde, but I don't know what they call it. It is made from pureed tomatillos. A tomatillo is a green tomato like fruit with a papery covering. Mixed with a little peppers, it is very nice.

Finally, the hottest is primarily pureed tomatoes with plenty of hot, and some cilantro.

They have lots of interesting dishes as well. My favorite is Alambre Tacos. You can get them with chicken or beef. I like the chicken. It consists of some pieces of chicken, bell peppers, onions, and bacon, served on corn tortillas, with fresh lettuce and tomato salad, and refried beans with cheese. Their refried beans are good. They also have beans that come in a cup, somewhat like a soup, with bacon bits. I like that one, too. I have to ask them not to put in the onions, unfortunately. The dish gives me the impression of an Asian stir fry. That's one reason I like it. I also like their melted Swiss cheese with mushrooms. That's just an appetizer, but I can make a meal of it. It comes with flour tortillas. Then they have another dish that consists of a very large shell made of a fried tortilla, full of all kinds of goodies: beans, meat, lettuce, etc. etc. It's like a huge salad. I like that one, too.

Hey, what's a good celebration without good food? When we have a family gathering, that's our favorite place to eat.

I hope I made you hungry. :) I am.

Mariachis

I was never brave enough to photograph the mariachis at La Parilla Suiza, not to mention the fact I didn't usually have a camera with me anyway.

One time we all went to La Fuente. This is another Mexican restaurant in town, and I especially like their nopalitos. They also make very good Mole Chicken. Mole is a chocolate sauce. My husband and I, our younger daughter and her husband, and their oldest son, who was only a few months old at the time, all went. He was rather fussy, but before long, the mariachis came very close to our table and played for everyone. There was a stage right there. As long as the mariachis played, he was fascinated and really enjoyed himself. They were a great blessing.

These are mariachis from Guadalajara. The photo is by Gerardo Gonzalez and is distributed under the Creative Commons share alike attribution license. Notice they are all wearing sombreros, and there is fancy embroidery on their jackets and slacks. This is very typical of the dress they wear.

Guitarrón

This very large guitar seems to be used only by mariachis, at least in my experience. On the slacks of these players are little silver medallions all in a couple of rows. And of course, they are wearing sombreros.

The photo is by Cow Bite and is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

Linda Ronstadt

Hey, I gotta tell you a story.

Linda Ronstadt is a famous singer. She is part of the Ronstadt family, which opened small businesses (hardware, if I recall correctly) that thrived, and they became wealthy. The name is German. There are actually quite a few Germans living in Mexico. But Linda's hair is dark, and she looks Hispanic. She has a nice voice.

One time, the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra had a concert at which she and some of her family members sang. It was truly a family affair for them. Our musician son, Anthony Allen Taylor, whom I talk about more in another Lens, is an alumnus of that orchestra; he played violin. Since then, he went into voice. He was asked to perform a couple of solos from one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He did a super job; he is very expressive and has quite a cult following when he performs regularly. His acting skills made him appear to be a real swashbuckling character.

After the concert, we were standing around talking, and Linda Ronstadt walked up to us, and gave a profuse compliment to our son for his performance. I will never forget that, because it touched my heart.

Other comments welcome, too.

Have you heard mariachis? - What do you think of them?

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    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 3 years ago

      Mariachis are fantastic. I enjoy listening and watching them play. Especially, when the trumpets get to playing.They are so moving they make you want to get up and do the Mexican Hat Dance. I have lived in Tucson for a couple of years and been to Mexico on several occasions. Every Cinco de Mayo when they play at the festivals I always stop and listen to the Mariachis play. I have visited most of the places you spoke about in this lens. BTW, lens is very nice. Oh, the green salsa you mentioned is called Tomatillo Salsa Verde, aka Tomatillo Salsa, and as you know is tasty. When you mentioned about the tacos, I have had those also. Small World! Thank You for stopping by my Star Pinata lens and giving it a "thumbs up". I really appreciate it. Do try making a Star Pinata because I know you will have fun making one. If you have any assistants; get them involved because they will have fun too. Have An A1 Day!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I haven't heard any authentic mariachis in person - only the caricatured versions on screen. But they do add a lift to the spirits and I enjoyed reading your descriptions here.

    • Yamin Joe profile image

      Yamin Joe 4 years ago

      The first time I encountered Mariachis group was in Epcot center in 1992 , I was fascinated with the songs that I heard before such as Besame mucho but the combination of Trumpet,Violins,Guitars and Contrabass sounds amazing and the second time was few years later in Mexico City at the famous Piazza.