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Seafaring tragedy inspires Mexican holiday

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Doug Dickston shares the tale of the lost shipment of mayonnaise that went down with the Titanic, causing a national day of mourning - Cinco de Mayo.

Editor’s note: Doug Dickston shares this tongue-in-cheek tale about the origin of Cinco de Mayo.

There are some stories so poignant and so moving they just bear retelling. So, apologies if you already know this horrible story.

If you don’t know that next Tuesday is a Mexican/American holiday celebrated here in the U.S. more broadly even than in Mexico, you might also not know that the holiday began with a tragedy.

Back in 1912, Hellmann’s mayonnaise was manufactured in England.

And when, on April 15, 1912, the Titanic set sail from England, it was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York.

This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo and many passengers were tragically lost forever.

The people of Mexico were crazy about mayonnaise because, when added to mashed avocados, it made the very best tasting guacamole. So Mexicans were eagerly awaiting its delivery and were disconsolate at the loss.

Their anguish was so great, that they declared a national day of mourning, which they observe to this day. The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th, the day the mayonnaise would have been unloaded in Vera Cruz, and it is known, of course, as (wait for it) Sinko de Mayo (rim shot).

In recognition of this tragedy, the West Linn Adult Community Center and our chef, Samantha Zizza, are offering a Mexican-themed, mayonnaise-laden cooking class on May 1 consisting of chipotle chicken tacos, pico de gallo with homemade tortilla chips, and churros. The class costs $20 per person and will run from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (including eating time). Sign up and pay at the WLACC ahead of time.

Our monthly breakfast brunch at noon on May 6 will be Mexican-themed as well.

The monthly calendar of events for the WLACC is now available online, and it includes lunch menus. Go to City of West Linn, Departments, Parks & Recreation, Adult Community Center, Newsletter.

This week’s lunches feature steak fajitas on Friday, Mother’s Day tea on Monday and Cinco de Mayo-themed birthday brunch on Wednesday.

For more information, call the WLACC at 503-557-4704. We are located at 1180 Rosemont Road, West Linn 97068.

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