STAMFORD, Conn., -- Laura Coronado of Stamford responds quickly when asked whether she knows what Cinco de Mayo is.
“It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla,” she said Monday.
It’s a fact that Coronado knows well as a Texas native of Mexican descent. It’s also a busy day for her: She owns Olé Molé, a Mexican restaurant located at 1030 High Ridge Road in Stamford.
“We’re very busy. We have a lot of orders from people,” she said, sweeping her arm back to a stack of orders waiting for the cooks to fill.
Cinco de Mayo has become popular among many people of Mexican descent living in the United States, but it is not Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16., and is the most important Mexican holiday, Coronado said.
On May 5, 1862, an outnumbered Mexican army defeated a larger French force. The French were in Mexico because the broke Mexican government had suspended paying interest on its foreign debts. France, Britain and Spain decided to invade in late 1861 and early 1862 to seek better terms from Mexico, but the British and Spanish left after a few months.
The French pressed on, only to suffer the defeat. They later help install a pro-French regime, the Second Mexican Empire, in 1864. It collapsed in 1867.
In the United States, the day has become an unofficial celebration of Mexican culture, although Coronado said she’s not quite sure why.
“I think it’s because people just want to have a fiesta,” she said with a smile. She also said it may have to do with the timing: By May 5, spring is firmly entrenched and people are enjoying the warmer weather.
Although Coronado knows her history and how to run her business, customer Dawn Konzerowsky knows her Mexican food.
“I’m from Texas. We grew up on Mexican food, and this is very authentic,” she said as she sat down for a meal with her two sons, Max, 10, and Jack, 5,
Konzerowsky said that when she and her family moved to Stamford from St. Antonio about 10 years ago, she was glad to fine a good Mexican restaurant. It's so good, in fact, that she’s a regular at Olé Molé.
“We come here almost every week,” she said. “I like to support local businesses.”