Jan 25, 2007

Mole—Mexican Curry of Chocolate—and Love

How to Lavish Love on Your Valentine—with Mole

Valentine's Day make you think of chocolate and love? Yeah, me too. And mole. Yes, rich, luscious, savory, indescribably mouth-watering, raison
d'etre, mole (pronounced moe-lay). Cannot get enough of it, no one makes it well enough to taste authentico, so I taught myself to make it—and yes, naturally, I go overboard. (Is there any other board to be?) Simply the word, mole, pronounced correctly, is enough to make me weak in the knees. Once I had made mole a few times, it dawned on me—it's just like curry. A complex savory stew made from toasting and blending many spices. Rich, fabulous—and too many steps for the culinarily faint of hear. Mole—so dazzling it's magical. As I write this, I am enjoying a warmed up bowl of leftover chicken mole that I made two days ago (mole is fabulous for about three days—then freeze it for more fun later). How can I describe the complexity? There's a garlicy top note. A butter-rich middle note, a nutty foundation supporting a mad cast of several pepper notes. And then there's that indefinable something that links it all together—chocolate. Savory chocolate. Ahhhhh.

I first became curious about molé when I discovered Mexican writer, of Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua para Chocolate), Laura Esquivel. In her little-known, delightful book of essays, Between Two Fires, she writes with feverish verve about making an Oaxacan Black Mole. She held my heart captive while reading that essay—just as she did in the movie version of her Chocolate book. How could I rest until I studied and learned and made mole for myself? Not gringa mole. Not cheating mole either, where you dab in some mole paste from a little jar (the ingredients are neither fresh nor wholesome, and always contain MSG). Nope, to unravel the mole mystery for myself and to make and serve it too—that's when I could be exorcised.

But I've loved and made authentic-style curries for decades, so it dawned on me that mole IS curry. A little more of this and less of that and a few surprise ingredients, but curry, nonetheless. If you can make curry, you can make mole . Surprisingly worth the effort. Remarkable. Makes a fabulously special feast for loved ones. I vote for mole for your Valentine. Let me know if it brings about the desired effect—I predict it will.

Molé Resources

  • The Mole Page The history of mole, mole paste recipes and mole recipes. Muy authentico. My favorite is Molé Poblano #5. That's the one I just enjoyed. Because you have to assemble so many ingredients, it's worth it to compose a double-batch and store the paste in a food-safe, air-tight storage container--especially one made out of glass (plastic storage containers tend to make food taste like plastic over time)--for up to two or three months.

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