Editor’s Note: This is a first-person column by Patrisia Gonzales.
Last Thanksgiving eve as I prepared my grandmother’s mole recipe, a recipe handed from woman-to-woman for centuries, I was suddenly moved by the mothers of all the moles to write this ode.
Mole is a time-intensive dish of chocolate, pumpkin and squash seeds, and sweet spices and chiles that, in our recipe, takes at least two hours to grind, fold and simmer. And that’s just working the sauce.
My mole recipe is on a stained piece of notebook paper, where I took detailed notes as my abuela taught me the art of mole. The recipe calls for a handful of poppy seeds and one of her little baskets of one kind of squash seed and her larger bowl for some other pumpkin seed, three fingers of this and five of that. I recorded how hot to get her cast iron skillet and how to know it. Watch the ginger or it will sour the mole. (I like more chocolate than she.) Dorando (saute) old, thick crusty bread. Add squash seeds saved over the summer. I wonder how my grandma ground all those seeds in her molcajete, a volcanic mortar. It’s harder than pilates. And when she tasted the final product, I recorded her exclamation as my passage into full womanhood, ¡Este si es mole! (Now this is mole!) I offer this molli (its original Nahuatl word) poem to you, dear reader, and to all the aficionados of this fine Indigenous dish.
To The Mole Mothers
Mole mothers Teomamas
Madrinas, god mothers:
Mole, mole, mole.
Mole-mole (to the beat of “Wooly Bully” by Sam the
Ollin, olla, yollotl, corazon heart,
ola ronda, round wave,
Que rueda, rolls, a pot that rolls.
A heart in movement like a rolling pot
Calabasa squash seeds in my womb
Chile pods, chilli
Chocolate, cacao, cacauaatl,
xocolatl, “god food,” divine food
Mole de pasillas
Hmm. Almond mole, pumpkin
mole, red mole, yellow mole,
green mole, raisin mole.
Mole like my abuela.
“Cuando esta bien molido, es
mole.” When it’s well ground
up, then it is mole
¡Este si es mole!
On the kitchen counter, I light copalito resin y ofrendo agua; I offer water. I look at Granny’s picture on the counter, the one of her at Thanksgiving, and I proclaim, “Granny, please don’t let me screw this up!”
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© 2004 Universal Press Syndicate