In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the holiday commemorating the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, we caught up with Vince Lopez, owner of Carmelita's Restaurant. Lopez opened the original Carmelita's on Park Street in St. Petersburg in 1983. His business now includes five locations in the Tampa Bay region. Although it's tough for the 60-year-old to name one favorite author or book, he wasted no time when naming his favorite Carmelita's menu item. "Our chiles rellenos. It's just about the way we make them, and we always use fresh peppers from the market.''
What's on your nightstand?
I've been reading a series of books by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz. The one I have now is Bible Prophecy 101: A Guide to the End Times in Plain Language. I like to read and study on different religions. I also have Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley. It's on how to live like you are 50 until you are 80.
What book or author would you recommend to learn more about Mexican history?
Coming to North America from Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico by Susan Garver and The Mexican Revolution by Luis Garfias.
What cookbook on Mexican cooking would you recommend?
All our recipes have been passed down from family. Everything we have is something that my mother or my wife's mother has cooked for generations. However, my wife does have two books on her shelf by Diane Kennedy. They are Cuisines of Mexico and Mexican Regional Cooking.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer