We know all about Canada Day and the Fourth of July, but the North American country that knows how to have the most fun commemorating the day it threw off the shackles of European dominion is Mexico. Every September 15th Mexicans celebrate their nation's birth by invoking El Grito de Independencia, the "shout of independence" uttered by the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810 (actually on the 16th) in which he cried the immortal line: "Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe, & Death to the Spaniards!". Basically, the day involves yelling a lot, getting liquored up, and devouring your body weight in grub. So, with London being a true city of the world, we recommend you do the same.
After decades as a culinary wasteland as dry as the Sonoma desert when it came to Mexican food, the situation has picked up in recent years, and most of London's south-of-the-border stop-offs are laying on an event or special menu of some kind. If you hear of any more happenings, drop us a note in the comments. And after enjoying a good Mexican stuffing, don't forget that this autumn's biggest feast of Mexicana comes in the form of the British Museum's blockbuster show on Moctezuma, the great Aztec ruler and modern-day euphemism for toilet troubles.
Benito's Hat in Goodge Street have what they're calling the only 'grito de la Independencia' in London. It'll be led by head chef Felipe Fuentes Cruz at 7pm and 9pm. While you're trying to get your vocal chords in order, you might like to try one of their cocktails, which are 2-for-1 all night, or one of Felipe's famous hot tamales.
are following in the footsteps of Londonist faves Daddy Donkey with a charity burrito eating contest
to raise money for the NSPCC. There's a £10 entry fee which includes a raffle ticket (prizes include a trip to Mexico), drink, burrito, and most importantly the opportunity to compete. Or you can just stand and watch.
Hampstead's Mestizo are hosting an Independence Day party, with Mariachi music and a 'Curate la Cruda' on the 16th, to help you get over that ill-advised fifth shot of Los Suicidas mezcal. They're also currently offering a culinary tour round Mexico, with a menu featuring the different foods found in different states across Mexico. Thought Mexican food got no more interesting than Old El Paso? Think again.
Recognising that it won't be possible to use Mexico as an excuse for a work no-show on Wednesday, Stoke Newington's Mercado Cantina
have shifted their independence day party a few days back to the weekend. On Friday the18th they've got a live mariachi band, a pinata, and the chance to see staff perform a Mexican costume contest; Saturday brings more live music, a Mexican dance. Booking in advance recommended.
Notting Hill's Taqueria, another of our favourites, will also roll their Mariachi band out of mothballs. Sip one of their excellent margaritas and enjoy the sounds of the Zocalo.
Green and Red on Bethnal Green Road are rolling out a special tortas stand and trying out some new dishes on their special £22-per head set menu, including Tortas Ahogada and Pozole Estilo Jalisco.
Image / Mark Wallis Photography
Last Updated 14 September 2009