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Philly’s Mexican Week celebrates the country’s art, food, music, and culture

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

A little bit of Mexico comes to Philadelphia during the third annual Mexican Week. The event, from May 1 through May 5, celebrates Mexican art, food, music, and culture.
The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia and the Mexican Cultural Center host the celebration, which includes, among other events and activities: a concert by a female Mariachi band at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; a recital of popular Mexican music by Ana Caridad Acosta, “La Contralto de América,” and Carlos Alberto Pecero at the Kimmel Center; and a cultural celebration in LOVE Park. Also, several Mexican restaurants in town will offer promotions and discounts during “Mexican Restaurant Week.”
Ana Flores, Executive Director of the Mexican Cultural Center, said the event aims to promote understanding and awareness of the cultural and artistic diversity of Mexico and its influence in the Delaware Valley. A lot of U.S. citizens think that Cinco de Mayo is their Independence Day, she said, but that’s in September. Still, May 5 is an important day, commemorating the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. With so many aware of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, even if they weren’t sure of the date’s history, the Center decided to have an event to honor Mexican culture and increase awareness in the city a few years ago. It was successful, so the event was extended to a weeklong extravaganza.
“We think it’s important for people to know of the culture and traditions of Mexico,” she said. “We’re a country with diverse traditions and we try to showcase a bit of everything. It’s important for people to know about this diversity.”
Flores, who’s originally from the Mexico City area, has been in the U.S. for five years. She lived in Center City, but moved to South Philly for a tasty reason.
“I love that Philadelphia is such a diverse city,” she said. “And I’m a foodie. I was impressed to see I could find fresh tortilla on 9th street and my favorite breakfast on Washington Street.”
Her favorite breakfast is chilaquiles, a typically tasty treat in Mexico. They’re made with tortillas, cut in quarters and lightly fried, then green or red salsa or mole is poured on top.
She also likes Philadelphia’s friendliness.
“The Mexican community is welcome here,” she said.
And the community is encouraged, through events like Mexican Week, to experience the culture. The Center wants people who emigrate here to keep their traditions, kids who are born here to not forget where their parents come from, and the American community to learn about their neighbors to the south, Flores said.
And the event will be festive, with colorful decorations and entertaining culture events.
“Everything comes to life and we think it’s going to be something,” she said.
The Center hopes that people will come away having had a good time, but also having learned more about Mexico and its people.
“It’s important to get to know us better,” Flores said. “The better we know each other, the better we treat each other.”

IF YOU GO

What: Mexican Week (including Mexican Restaurant Week)
When: Friday, May 1, 2015 through Tuesday, May 5.
Where: Various sites in Philadelphia.
Admission: Most events are free.
Info.: Visit www.mexicanculturalcenter.org.

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