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Mole

13-Jan-2005

There’s a really interesting article and several mole recipes in this week’s LA Times: 

Check it out here.

3 Comments
  1. Unknown permalink
    16-Jan-2005 4:33 am

    You are right. That\’s a very interesting article. I love reading this kind of food history along with modern recipes.The article does raise some questions in my mind, though. Why the classic association of mole with turkey? Because of a special affinity of the tastes? Because turkeys were once so abundant? Because turkeys had also been reserved for Moctezuma? Hmmmm.I also noted that today mole paste usually includes almonds as an ingredient, though they were not indigenous to the Americas. This might fit well with the story that the dish was created by a Dominican nun adding Spanish and Moorish cooking techniques, as mentioned in the article. But it certainly would not have been served to Moctezuma in this same fashion. The fact that the name \’mole\’ is from the Nahuatl certainly leads one to wonder about the ancestry of this dish from the original Aztec culture. It\’s our misfortune that there aren\’t contemporaneous written records of culinary traditions in the Americas before the Europeans.

  2. Unknown permalink
    16-Jan-2005 5:06 am

    More from my quick research:The almonds show the European and especially Moorish influence on the dish, not only because of the origin of almonds, but also because of the culinary tradition of using ground nuts as a thickening agent. The Aztecs were thought to have prepared chocolate for drinking by the addition of cornmeal or fermented corn (making the drink alcoholic). Modern versions treat the cornmeal as a thickening agent.Davidson believes it is doubtful that mole originated in the 17th century. Many authors do note the association between chocolate and religion in the indigenous culture (summed up by the stories that only Moctezuma could drink the chocolate), theorizing that it is unlikely that there would therefore have been a tradtion of consuming it. A comparison I read compared cooking with chocolate by Aztecs with cooking with Communion wine by catholics. Could this be a culinary example of the absorption or eradication of pagan traditions by the Church?

  3. Culinary permalink
    16-Jan-2005 1:48 pm

    Wow, Bob!Sounds like you\’ve done a ton of research but I guess you should if you\’re going to be writing a cookbook! Thanks for the additional information and for giving us all something to "chew on"! B

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