Cinco de Mayo, and Is a Mushroom a Vegetable?

May 05, 2004

Today is that most contrived of American holidays, Cinco de Mayo. At least in the U.S., this seems only to be a celebration of Mexican restaurants. I'm not sure about other parts of the country, but at least in my town, Cinco de Mayo celebrations were started by Corona advertising, and local Mexican restaurants jumping on the bandwagon with specials.

The make-a-holliday-for-profit method appears to have worked. There was nary a seat to be found in the first three Mexican places I passed today. Then, we went to one which had plenty of open seats, despite the false claim of a mariachi band. Let me just tell you, pulling into an empty parking lot at a Mexican restaurant does not give you the feeling that you are about to enjoy a great meal.

Most people that I polled thought that May 5 is the Mexican independence day. As it turns out, they're wrong. explains what it's all about, although I confess to not having the patience to read the darned page.

While I was google searching for that history, I also tried to find out if a mushroom is a vegetable. Here's my verdict: it isn't. Out of my sense of fairness, here are my arguments for both sides of the issue.

IsIs Not
People who know such things seem to have decided that fungi are not plants. At least one definition of "vegetable" indicates that it is a plant. A mushroom is definitely a fungus. Since it isn't a plant, it can't be a vegetable.Cream of mushroom soup is often in recipes for things like "vegetable casserole." Also, defining something as a vegetable is a food category. It has nothing to do with the scientific, biological, egg-head garbage that distinguishes a fungus from a plant. No lay person knows what a fungus is anyway. They seem to just be mushrooms and nasty things that you want to scrape away.

As I often do, I've changed my mind since writing the first sentence. The most contrived of American holidays is Valentine's Day. But more on that in February, if I remember.