One of my favorite things abut vacationing in Mexico are dishes made with mole (pronounced Moh-lay). This is the first of three articles about Mole. If it gets you in the mood to go, you can find instant booking on our Available Now
Where did Mole come from?
The word “Mole” comes from the ancient Aztec term “molli” which means sauce. However, Mole is much more than just a sauce. It has more than 25 ingredients, and its preparation takes days in order to make it the delicacy it is.
When you eat a dish with Mole, actually Mole becomes the star of the meal. All the other components, such as the meat, rice, potatoes, tortillas, etc. become only complementary of the main component: Mole.
But how was this dish created?
The Legend of Mole
There is a legend that says that, during the Colonial times, the Viceroy was going to visit a monastery in Puebla, and Friar Pascual, the one in charge of that monastery, was very nervous, trying to have everything perfect for the important visit they were going to receive. He was also running around the kitchen, making sure that all the meals were perfectly prepared for the Viceroy. He was also tidying up the kitchen and he took all the chilies, onions, chocolate and other ingredients that were spilled around the kitchen and put them all in a bowl. Then, in his hurry, he tripped and accidentally threw all of those ingredients in the pot where the turkey was being cooked, ruining the fine main course. However, to his surprise, everybody was pleased with the resulting meal and all the visitors praised it.
Of course, this is just a legend and it’s not really how the real recipes for Mole were originated, but it was a very funny legend to tell and it had a lot of popular acceptance for many years. After it, when someone was preparing to cook for an important feast, they used to say a prayer for Fray Pascual (the friar of the legend) in order to help them to achieve a delicious meal that charms everyone.
A more realistic story about the origin of Mole
Another story a little bit similar to the legend, but that sounds more realistic, is the one at Convent of Santa Rosa, in Puebla. The story says that there they were also receiving a very important visit from the Viceroy, so the festive meals had to be prepared. Therefore, nun María, the one in charge of the kitchen, prepared a typical Sauce using several chilies, but it turned out too spicy for the visitors, so, in order to make it less spicy, the Chef added almonds, nuts, chocolate, and other flavors, which gave as return the “Mole”.
The real origin of Mole
The truth is that Mole took many years to become what it is now. It started from the chili based sauces or “moli” from the pre-colonial times, and then it was slowly perfected, adding new ingredients and finding new ways to make it, until the famous types of mole were created. Some people believe that its place of perfection were convents and monasteries, where the nuns and monks took the time do make new additions and experiment with every ingredient they found convenient, but it could also happen in the regular kitchens of the regular people.
Even today, Mole continues to evolve, because everyone who makes it adds, subtracts and changes a little bit the ingredients, the procedures, in order to achieve their own recipes, based on the original ones, making delicious meals every time.