My Mother’s Mole
Origin of Mexico’s “National Dish”
The name Mole comes from the Nahuatl word for sauce – mōlli – and is the generic name for several variations of rich sauces that come in colors like yellow, red, black and even green (Cocking 2016). Mole is made from various chiles (chilis) especially chiles poblanos. Chile poblano means the chile from Puebla, a city that has played a key role in Mexican history and cuisine (Hansen,2003). Chile poblano is the reason why the Mole is known as Mole Poblano, meaning from Puebla. The two regions best known for their respective moles are Oaxaca and Puebla… Puebla’s most famous mole is without a doubt its namesake mole poblano, the most internationally recognized mole and the variation that is classed as the official national dish (Cocking 2016). Mole is one of the most recognizable dishes in Mexican cuisine. Symbolic of the way Mexico blended European and Aztec cultures in the years after the Spanish Conquest, Mole is made from a unique mixture of chocolate and hot peppers (Benitos). History provides us with various stories of its origin dating back to Mesoamerica when Moctezuma served it to Cortés on his arrival to Mexico, since he thought Cortez to be a god. Another version reports, approximately 300 years ago, some of the poorest citizens of the Santa Rosa convent were preparing for a visit by the archbishop. Struggling to come up with a dish worthy of him, the nuns… mixed stale bread, nuts, chocolate, chili peppers, and spices to season the meat and make it more edible (Benitos). From Moctezuma and the nouns to now, the preparation of Mole is not easy, as many moles (particularly those originating in Oaxaca) are known to have 30+ ingredients (Cocking 2016).
What Mole Means to my Family
Mole is part of my culture, not only do we enjoy eating it but mostly making it. My childhood celebrations, from my sister’s Quinceanera to my children’s baptisms, all involved my mother making Mole. Mole is like our family’s religion; it’s practiced and passed down from generation to generation. My favorite mother-daughter moments were spent with my mother teaching me how to cook, I not only felt pampered (having a personal teacher) but felt loved by having my mother pass down her Mexican recipe wisdom on to me. Even though Mole is not something we could make from scratch, due to its intense labor in preparation of various dried chiles, almonds, peanuts, chocolate and many more ingradients that are grounded into a paste then thinned with broth, Mole is our favorite rich, spicy sauce that we enjoy with chicken at many festivities. Mole can take up to two days to prepare, however, that the same Mole paste can also be purchase by the pound in traditional Mexican outlets like El Mercadito. El Mercadito, located in the heart of Los Angeles, El Mercadito comprises countless food options from various international cuisines, including Mexican snacks (Tiber 2019). Huge buckets of mole paste come from México to be sold at the market. Mole verde and rojo from Guerrero, mole negro or colorado from Oaxaca, mole poblano, and many others (Marrero 2016). El Mercadio is my favorite local ethnic place to shop for my favorite Mole. It’s difficut and not often but I sometimes get home made Mole from family members who travel to Mexico. I cherish the few times that I get Mole in a paste bases from those family members.
Cultural significance of Mole for Mexicans
Mexican cuisine is an important aspect of the culture, social structure and popular traditions of Mexico. The most important example of this connection is the use of Mole for special occasions and holidays…(en.wikipedia.org). Mole to me represents the hard work of an indigenous group of cooks who harvest, gather and prepared a unique sauce that is loved by so many including myself. Their teachings were too shared with their children as my mother shared with me. The tradition and knowledge of Mole is a special moment shared from generation to generation that can be said to be a cultural experience. My mother has shared her Mexican traditional recipes from Mole to enchiladas, pozole, menudo, tamales, enchiladas, birria, and barbacoa among others. Even though Mole is one of Mexico’s traditional dishes, Mexico has a diversified list of foods that varied from state to state.
My family’s favorite times involve food as part of a social gathering. My family, like many families, share their current life events at the dinner table to bring everyone up to date on their current status of happiness. The food served plays a big role at the dinner table too because is delicately prepared by the women in the family, who gather and share their cooking skills. I consider the preparation of food as a family to be one of my family’s traditions. Mole served with rice is one of the many, if not our favorite, foods to prepare as a family. My family’s favorite mole is the Mole Poblano, a rich less spice sauce infused with chocolate. After all, food is the common ground to join people together, and as my family would say, at our dinner table everyone is welcome and ” Donde come uno come dos”, meaning, where there’s enough for one, there’s enough for two.
Rice is the bond to many dishes within the Mexican cousin. Rice, unlike Mole, does not include too many ingredients nor takes days to prepared. Rice was introduced to Mexico via the Philippines, then transported to Acapulco…The Spaniards later found the lush tropical climate of Veracruz region of Mexico to be a perfect growing ground for rice (Bowman 2013). Rice can be enjoyed with beans and choice of meat as seen in Mexican restaurants. Rice is not only reserved as a savory dish, but it is also used in desserts, cakes, vegetable puddings, tamales, atoles, and even the well-known rice drink, horchata (Bowman 2013). Rice is also cooked in a few ways, my family’s choice of rice to accompany the Mole Poblano is the “Pilaf” style. Pilaf style is where the rice grains are browned and then simmered in broth (Bowman 2013). Rice is a must at my dinner table, since rice goes well with mostly all Mexican dishes. However, rice has been one of my most challenging dishes to make due to its water ratio that is not always perfect no matter how accurately you follow its recipe. Because of that, don’t feel bad if your rice does not looks exactly as the picture.
Mole with Chicken and Rice
Total Time: 1½ hours Serves: 6
1 lb Mole Paste (from El Mercadito)
One 6 to 8-qt pot with a lid
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ medium onion
3 large garlic cloves
6 cups of water
One 6 to 8-qt pot with a lid
1 cup of rice
2 cups of chicken broth
¼ small onion (sliced)
4 tablespoons of virgin oil
2 garlic cloves (peeled)
2 medium tomatoes
½ cup of water
1 to 2 tablespoons Knorr chicken flavor bouillon powder
One 6-qt pot with a lid
- Place chicken, ½ medium onion, 3 large garlic cloves and 6 cups water in a large pot over medium-high heat, add salt to flavor about 10 minutes after. Boil until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Save chicken broth for Mole and rice’s preparation.
- While the chicken cooks, rice can be prepared.
- When the chicken is done, just set aside.
- In a 6-qt pot add oil, sliced onion and peeled garlic over medium fire stirring it until grilled/browned.
- Remove browned onion and garlic and add rice, stirring it until it too it’s golden brown.
- In a blender add tomatoes, water, and grilled onions and garlic, liquify items on high to make a tomato sauce/paste.
- Once the rice is golden brown add tomato sauce/paste from the blender and 2 cups of chicken broth from the cooked chicken.
- Add Knorr chicken flavor powder to taste, starting with no more than 1 tablespoon.
- Mix ingredients and cover to cook over medium fire until water evaporates, avoid mixing once water is almost evaporated, this will make the rice consistency into a paste.
- Transfer paste to a medium pot over low heat and pour in chicken broth, stirring, to form a thick sauce, about 3 minutes, add salt to taste if needed.
- Add chicken thighs, bring to a boil, removed and cool off for about 5 minutes.
- Serve Mole with sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top, add rice and enjoy.
A guide to the 7 Moles of Mexico (“n.d” ). Gourmetpedia, retrieved March 3, 2020: from https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=CEABC9FD784F0C8193A640CCDFE5988477D58CB6&thid=OIP.wqmxDW2wou5YLjlRV02TPAAAAA&mediaurl=http%3A%2F%2Fgourmetpedia.net%2Fmedia%2Fupload%2Fsaveurs%2F343.jpg&exph=307&expw=440&q=pictures+of+mexican+mole&selectedindex=199&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6
Bowman, B. (2013, September 22). Mexican Rice History And Recipes. Gourmet Sleuth, retrieved: March 4, 2020: from www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/mexican-rice#section0
Cocking, L. (2016, November 10). A Brief History of Mole, Mexico’s National Dish. The Culture Trip, retrieved March 2, 2020: from https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/a-brief-history-of-mole-mexicos-national-dish/
Hansen, B. (2003, September 10). Cooking; A true mexican aristocrat; the poblano chile isn’t just fiery — it’s complex and flavorful too. and lately, it’s been making bold appearances in dining rooms all over town.: [HOME EDITION]. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved Mar. 2, 2020: from https://search.proquest.com/docview/421836859?accountid=35804
Image of Mexican Mole. (“n.d” ). Bing, retrieved March 3, 2020: from https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=El+Mole+Poblano&FORM=IDINTS
Images of Mexican Rice. (“n.d” ). Bing, retrieved March 3, 2020: from (https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=3CA1AF78B43A1C02F54E0C42F2CCC77691620809&thid=OIP.L_YWgiRByOVcm-_R8uPkLwHaLH&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fthestayathomechef.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F09%2FAuthentic-Mexican-Rice.jpg&exph=825&expw=550&q=pictures+of+mexican+rice&selectedindex=9&qpvt=pictures+of+mexican+rice&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6
Marrero, P. (2016, Sep. 13). Boyle Heights’ El “Mercadito”, Still Mexican to the Core. Kcet.org, retrieved March 4, 2020: from https://www.kcet.org/food-living/boyle-heights-el-mercadito-still-mexican-to-the-core
Mole Poblano: A Traditional Mexican Dish. (“n.d” ). Benitosmexican.com, retrieved February 26, 2020: from http://benitosmexican.com/mexican-food/mole-poblano-a-history-of-the-traditional-mexican-dish/
Mole Poblano (“n.d” ). Gourmetpedia, retrieved March 3, 2020: from https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&id=C3BEF105910A21C5BEF9D9AA6829B871AEA562CD&thid=OIP.58xysMNsrjPVrPrPI24v2QHaFj&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.shopify.com%2Fs%2Ffiles%2F1%2F2246%2F4291%2Fproducts%2FMole_w_Spices_Table_2_2000x.jpg%3Fv%3D1511411534&exph=755&expw=1008&q=pictures+of+mexican+mole&selectedindex=83&ajaxhist=0&vt=0&eim=1,2,6
Tiber, C. (2019, May 21). Eating L.A. before it eats itself: El mercadito de los angeles sells chile-coated memories. University Wire, retrieved March 4, 2020: from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2228562062?accountid=35804
Wikipedia (“n.d” ). In Mexican cuisine. Wikipedia. retrieved March 2, 2020: from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_cuisine