Want to know the difference between a mole and a sauce?
A party! In Tu Casa Mi Casa the chef Enrique Olvera explains the social definitions of his nation’s most famous dishes
For Enrique Olvera, as for many Mexicans, cooking is a social activity. “In my home, as in most of my country, we love to eat and converse,” he writes in Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook, “we therefore love to cook.”
And that social side finds its way into the language of food. Take, for instance, the Mexican mole. The index at the back of Tu Casa Mi Casa defines this as “a category for typical Mexican sauces containing a combination of chiles, spices, and seeds/nuts. There are as many as there are towns in Mexico and they are typically prepared in festive occasions by the entire Family.”
Elsewhere in the book, Olvera elaborates on the word, and stresses that festive side. “Mole comes from the Nahuatl word mol-li, which means salsa or sauce,” he explains. “Many think of mole poblano (or “the chocolate sauce”) as the only kind of mole, but there are hundreds of moles that vary widely in style. Saying mole is like saying curry, it depends where you are, the local ingredients of that place, and the specific time of year. What all moles have in common is their celebratory connotation. There are moles made for the weekly family lunch, while others are for special events. For example, when someone gets married, the entire family comes together to make the mole days prior to the wedding."
Please bear that in mind, when you cook and serve any mole from Olvera’s new book. You can buy your copy here.