Garfene Grandison, Gleaner Writer
Mexican cuisine is quite elaborate but is based mainly on the processes involving corn, varieties of chilli, beans, avocados, chocolates, seeds and a complexity of other ingredients that increase flavour and nutritional value.
Mexico's world-renowned traditional cuisine, famous for its distinctive ingredients and incredible diversity, includes dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, barbacoa, conchinita, enchiladas and mole which we will be looking at today. An ancestral dish, mole is derived from the word mahuatl which means sauce. Mole is the name given to a number of sauces used to prepare the mixture that is served over meat. According to Mexican ambassador Gerardo Arredondo, "Mexico has a very rich cuisine where we fuse indigenous ingredients with some Spanish recipes". Mexicans use this extraordinary dish for major celebrations. According to Arredondo, the classic mole version is called mole poblano, which is dark brown and made from a fusion of different types of chilli (ancho, pasilla, mulato, guajillo) and an average of about 20 other ingredients such as dried fruit, garlic, sesame seeds and tomatoes. The mole is usually served over chicken or turkey. According to Arredondo, "Mole is a very elaborate dish because it has to be prepared one or two days in advance. There are three different varieties of mole - red, green and brown - depending on the ingredients," he explained.
History of the mole
What proved to be quite interesting was the history and the story behind the invention of the mole. As the Gleaner team sat with the ambassador and his wife, Mariza Arciniega, we were given a quick tale about the mole's ancestry with three states in Mexico claiming they originated the mole. According to folklore from Puebla, when the nuns heard that the archbishop was going to visit their convent in Santa Rosa, in the XVI century, they went into a panic because they had nothing to serve the honourable guest. After praying, they brought together bits of what they had, such as chilli peppers, chocolate, days' old bread, spices and others, cooked them down and turned it into a sauce that they then spread over turkey. The archbishop loved the meal and that signalled the beginning of a new Mexican tradition.
Drink of choice
The mole is served with Mexican rice and tortilla, which is very important to Mexican cuisine. Like other countries that drink wines and champagne with their main course, the ambassador tells Food that their drink of choice is tequila.
The tequilas Don Julio and the Mezgal are three of the oldest and best brands of tequila that the ambassador and his wife displayed.
Another favourite that has some ties to Jamaica is sorrel, which Arciniega says is called Jamaica flower in Mexico. Also on show was a tray full of sweet desserts that were home-made and quite tasty.
Here is a look at some very interesting Mexican fare.