Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Mole con pollo

We are now in a nice outlying town. It is built on silver like so many others, with an unlikely yet somehow expected ornate peach- coloured church.

We have just had our first mole! Something we have been looking forward to, essentially this consists of a very complicated sauce made from fruits, spices, chili, and cocoa beans. This is another pretty ancient dish- people were eating cocoa like this long before anyone decided to make it hard, mix it with milk and associate it with seduction.*

And the chocolate really is apparent. In fact, it may be my boundless ignorance but the dominant taste is by far the cocoa, and I'm not sure, when you really get down to it, that you need the 40+ ingredients that everyone seems so proud of. Certainly it is an interesting taste- the other ingredients do something, and that something is magical. But do you need to spend a week making it? (and they do!)

On finer points, the sauce is satisfyingly dark, really quite runny, uniformly smooth, and there is a lot of it. This is a good dish if you like to take advantage of the never- exhausted free tortillas, as there will be a lot of stuff to dip them in. As to the flavour, it has a good base of bitterness, so all the sweetness (from various fruits) and saltiness can just lay back in that. The slight burn from the chili almost feels like the afterglow of drinking wine. Bathing in this is one chicken leg, and it comes with a splat of refried beans as standard.

*I'm a bit bemused and interested by the fact that even when referring to cocoa (or cacao), people here say 'chocolate', which comes from when Europeans (the French I think) started putting it with milk (late). A word and a plant are adopted from Mexico, taken to Europe, twisted, changed and used for something quite different, and then hundreds of years later the new word finds its way back to general usage in the wake of commercial force, in a totally different language, yet again referring to the same thing that farmers a thousand years ago used it for.

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