I always thought I knew how the word "Mariachi" originated. As I often do when writing my articles, I check my information, even if I think I know. It turns out I was wrong about "Mariachi's" origins. I had learned that the word came to be as a result of the French influence in Mexican culture during Maximiliano's stay there in the 1800's; I thought the name was given to the groups of Mexican musicians French people hired to perform at their weddings, or "marriage" in French.
While doing my research, I came upon a 1991 article titled "Mexico, the meeting of two cultures" by Higgins and Associates. According to this publication, the word "Mariachi" has been found in documents predating the French arrival in Mexico. There goes that theory!
However the word originated, and perhaps we will never know for sure, the name "Mariachi" now immediately brings to mind images and sounds of one of the most beautiful gifts Mexico has given to the world.
The origins of these bands of Mexican musicians were very modest. We can credit its present form and world popularity to Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. It was this famous Mariachi orchestra that first popularized this music in all of Mexico. They were also the first to have professional musicians who could read music. And they came up with the "uniform," consisting of beautifully adorned "trajes de charro" typically worn by the cowboys in Jalisco.
I love all types of music, including classical and soft rock. But no other music moves my soul and touches my heart as a good Mariachi! It has the ability to transport me to different times and places, and it helps me imagine how life was in Mexico before I was born, when my great grandparents arrived from Lithuania in the late 1800's.
Now in the 21st Century, where do people in LA go when they want to hear a great Mariachi orchestra? Much like Cristobal Col??n, my husband and I have discovered a wonderful new place that has been there for decades! Neal, who calls himself "Mexican by marriage", enjoys our food and our music as much as any good "Chilango!"
And so it was that a couple of months ago we were fortunate to "discover" La Fonda on Wilshire.
Founded in 1969 La Fonda has been completely renovated. The restaurant is both elegant and cozy. As soon as you walk in, everyone treats you like viejos amigos.
Executive Chef Martin Garcia makes sure the food is authentically delicious. My favorites are the Ceviche appetizer and the Tres Leches Cake!
La Fonda is credited with being the first establishment in the USA to incorporate the best live Mariachi music with a fine dining experience.
Mariachi Monumental de America de Juan Jose Almaguer is the Mariachi currently featured at La Fonda. The music is truly fabulous! The performers are gifted musicians who also make everyone feel right at home! They will even invite you to sing with them if you're musically inclined. Neal and I enjoy their music so much we bought two of their CD's ÔÇô one for his car and one for mine!
The next time you're in the mood for great, authentic Mexican food and music, do yourself a favor and visit La Fonda on Wilshire. They are located on 2501 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles; for show information or reservations, call (213) 380-5053. Their website: http://www.lafondala.com.
In case you're wondering, Neal and I don't get special discounts or commissions for recommending this incredible jewel of LA - just the joy of sharing something we enjoy with our amigos & amigas on LatinoLA!
Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. Adler, a regular contributor to LatinoLA, is a writer, public speaker, and voice over artist. She and husband Neal live in Valley Glen with their five dogs, five cats, three birds, two turtles, and one tiny burro. Author's website Email the author