Sunday, December 30, 2012

Don Cuevas’ Magical Mole Mystery Tour

The long awaited,  semi-dreaded Mole Season opened this year for us on December 12, El Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe. We were invited to the house of our landlords’ daughter, husband and grandson, César, for a comida celebrating the César’s Primera Comuníon. That took place in Coenembo, a pleasant town high in the mountains to the east of Quiroga. It’s only about 12 miles from Casa Las Cuevas, but the paved highway route is more on the order of 30 miles each way.

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Coenembo location

The mole was rich, suave and subtly complex. It was instantly recognizable as the work of Sra. Carmelina, whose mole we’d enjoyed a few years back. For seconds, I skipped the chicken but requested “una laguna de mole, y ‘sopa’". Sopa in this sense refers to the pilaf like rice that accopanies almost every family sit down meal.

Mmmm, Carmelina, I love your mole

Laguna de Mole on my plate
We were also treated to homemade corundas, a sort of plain steamed masa tamal wrapped in fresh corn leaves: the matzoh balls of Michoacán.

Two days later, December 14, we returned to the scene of that earlier mole of Carmelina, this time for a comida at the house of Ramón and Irma, just down the street, next to the church. Once again a mole de pollo, this one made by Sra. Providencia. It was similar in appearance to Carmelina's, but different in taste. Providencia’s mole had more of a smoky, spicy bite. I was able to consume a good amount of it. I don't have a photo of that mole, but I offer you these in compensation:

Sra. Providencia stirs rice for sopa
Another year, another sopa
Sra. Carmelina's mole suavecito 
Last Wednesday, December 26, we went to a comida at the nearby house of Marta and Mario, in celebration of the marriage that day of their son Enrique to Jessica. (Both live in the U.S. and speak fluent English.)

¡Mole! Good, too, although the flavor profiles were starting to blur on my jaded palate. It was good enough that I asked for a side of more mole, and I was brought a generous cupful.

Mole at meal's end
A medium mole to go or spoon up on site
Yesterday, Saturday, December 29, we went to the not too distant village of Los Corrales, Michoacán, where another wedding was taking place in the charmingly adorned church there. Incidently, Los Corrales is a bit over 4 kilometers from Coenembo, as the bird flies, but the paved route is 31.6 kilometers. .
Los Corrales at "A", Coenembo at "B".

Church at Los Corrales, Michoacán

Flower adorned church
Afterward, accompanied by mariachis, hundreds of guests trooped up the hill to a huge party venue under enormous tarp tents. There were no less than three stages, two of which were put to use in the course of the afternoon.

Intense mole served within
The main course was: you guessed it, mole de pollo. I did see some folks eating birria but none came my way. At this point my sensitive mole flavor profile palate had crashed, in part due to mole saturation.

But there was also the overload of stimuli of the other senses, from the beautiful to the extremely loud pounding music from the speakers of the otherwise very good band. And sorry, no mole photo. One mole looks like another, but this one was the most picante so far.

I have retired from the mole circuit for this year, and although we have received an invitation to another wedding on January 5th, we will not be a presence there.

Last night for supper, we had scalloped potatoes with ham au gratin and canned sweet corn, then soft gingerbread for dessert. In the end, there’s no place like home.

And now, for your listening and viewing pleasure, Lila Downs performs "La Cumbia de Mole".


Tancho said...

I have tried various methods for my mole problem. The gassers have no impact, and the spring loaded traps somewhat effective. Waking up early and using a .22 rifle seems to be the best.....

Steve Cotton said...

I am not a mole fan. I suspect my reticence is based on the fact that I have never tasted a well-made mole sauce.

DonCuevas said...

I love a well made mole, but at a rate of about 0nce or twice ever 3 months. Less so every other day or two

Don Cuevas

raquelita said...

Green mole is my favorite, similar to a sauce served in Puebla that I think it graces the semitas de pollo there..

DonCuevas said...

Mole verde is a whole other species. Fresher tasting and less rich, I think. I had it a couple of times in Oaxaca. In fact, I took a class with Pilar Cabrera on making mole verde.

Don Cuevas