In Mexico, they have these little events every year dedicated to certain foods that are part of Mexican cuisine and recently I went to an important one known as the Feria Nacional del Mole in Milpa Alta of Mexico City.
Mole is one of them.
For those who don't know, here is a description and a video of mole here:
"Mole, from Nahuatl mōlli (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈmoːlːi]), meaning "sauce", is a traditional sauce and marinade originally used in Mexican cuisine."
"Generally, a mole sauce contains fruits, nuts, chili peppers, and spices like black pepper, cinnamon, or cumin."
For something similar, you can also check out this other article I wrote here about an event dedicated to enchiladas held in Mexico City every year also.
At any rate, these events all tend to be pretty similar from my experience.
When you show up, there might be a small fee of like 10 pesos more or less to enter.
Sometimes entrance is free.
There'll usually be a band playing or some type of mini performance for a crowd to watch on most days it is held.
And there will be a wide variety of vendors and restaurants selling whatever the food being celebrated is and also sometimes they will sell other things like artisan crafts, pulque, special bread, etc.
The event for mole was no different.
And it should be no surprise to anyone that the event was held in Milpa Alta.
Mole in Milpa alta
Milpa Alta is one of the 16 boroughs of Mexico City.
It is as far south as you can get without leaving Mexico City and entering Morelos state.
It happens to be relatively rural and produces a lot of crops for consumption in Mexico City.
In fact, Milpa Alta has a little town called San Pedro Atocpan that is known as a "barrio magico" of Mexico City as you can see here.
San Pedro Atocpan also happens to produce most of the mole that is consumed in Mexico City.
As mole comes in many different varieties, San Pedro Atocpan's specialty happens to be "mole almendrado" (almond mole) as you can see here:
"San Pedro Atocpan, donde nace el mole almendrado
Considerado uno de los platillos de fiestas patronales por excelencia, la elaboración del mole continúa siendo el atractivo principal del pueblo de San Pedro Atocpan"
You can also see a video on mole in San Pedro Atocpan here.
Though, as you can see here, apparently you need to be careful when buying mole in San Pedro Atocpan as some of it can be "fake mole."
Seriously. Fake mole? Who the fuck thinks up this shit?
Surprising too that apparently "fake mole" exists in such an area because, when I went to San Pedro Atocpan on several occasions, I never saw it so touristy to the point that you'd think the locals would begin plotting scams against them as is usually the case in tourism heavy areas.
At any rate, with all this history, clearly Milpa Alta is the place to be to hold the Feria Nacional del Mole as well.
Arriving to the Feria Nacional del Mole
Given public transportation is relatively limited to Milpa Alta and it is far away from most of the city, it does take a little bit of work to get here.
I ended up taking an Uber but did have finding one that would go that far as so many seemingly refused to take on the trip and one even cancelled right away after initially accepting it.
Thankfully, I had a driver named Raul finally show up.
First, I had him take me to a museum in a nearby town in Milpa Alta known as San Pablo Oztotepec to see a museum dedicated to the history of Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution.
It said online that the museum was open that day but, to my luck, they seemed closed.
For the second time that I went to visit them.
Thankfully, the bad luck ended there.
Right afterwards, we went straight for the Feria Nacional del Mole.
It is located on the Xochimilco-Oaxtepec road at the 17.5 km mark just north of San Pedro Atocpan of Milpa Alta.
Here is a picture of what it looks like as you get up to it.
Then I carried on towards the main entrance as you can see here.
They will check your bags to make sure you are not bringing anything prohibited inside and, if I remember right, I believe they had an entrance fee of 10 pesos (50 cents).
Once inside, you'll start to wonder "where are all the restaurants?"
Immediately, you'll see places selling special bread, pulque, artisan products, etc.
But so far no mole!
Given I had a bunch of 500 peso bills on me since the ATM machine only gave me 500s that same day, I was looking forward to using some of the vendors to break those bills.
Anyway, I kept on walking with the idea in the back of my head to use some of these vendors to break the bills after I have a meal.
Here are some photos anyway of the walk you'll go through initially.
Free Mole Samples for Everyone
Once you get past that point, you'll reach an outside space that has some games for children, a giant horse and a bunch of vendors and restaurants offering mole.
Here are some initial pictures of the outside.
As you keep walking anyhow, you'll start to be approached by various vendors that want to give you free mole.
Personally, I didn't see that many people at this event.
It wasn't empty but it wasn't crowded either.
So I was an obvious target by many on several occasions to give their free mole samples too.
There was one older lady who gave me like 5 samples.
Just one after another.
I ended up feeling guilty about taking so many because I had no intentions on buying just yet.
Thankfully, another couple walked up to the same spot and were available to take free samples and give her hope that they'd buy from her.
When I said though that "I have to get going," I could see her die inside.
As if her soul was ripped out of her body.
But I promised "I'll be back, just want to find a restaurant first" and it seemed her face found life again after saying that.
Finding a Restaurant
There were numerous restaurants at this event but most of them seemed empty.
There was one in particular that seemed to have more people than the rest but they only had one waiter attending most of them.
And I waited for the dude to notice me and give me the menu or something but he was simply too busy.
So I walked away to find another place.
Ideally, I was hoping I could find a place with Wifi so I could order an Uber back home after I was done but, in hindsight, I'm not sure if anyone there had Wifi as quite a few said no.
After a while, I gave up on wanting Wifi and there was one place in particular that I agreed to try.
Here it is.
With the insistence of the lady by the front to get me through the door, I went along with it.
Ordering the Food
Sitting down, I look at the menu and it seems relatively more expensive than food you'd find elsewhere.
It's a common theme you read about online where, when doing research about this event, no shortage of Mexicans seem to complain about the prices at these restaurants.
To an American like me though, they were not crazy to be fair.
I ended up having 3 beers, some soup, queso fundido, red rice and a HUGE chicken with tortillas for about 400 pesos (20 bucks).
While I was waiting for the food, some informal band walked in to see if they could play for anyone but saw I was the only one there.
Not much of a crowd to hopefully get a tip from.
So they left.
Finally, the food came and I didn't have to wait terribly long for it.
Here is what the food looked like in these photos.
For only 20 bucks, it really isn't that bad of a price.
Perhaps for folks living in Milpa Alta where wages are probably lower, it's not too affordable.
And, on top of that, I imagine the location is not very convenient to get to.
It is technically in Milpa Alta but who the fuck decided to place this event on the side of a busy road?
Not everyone has a car in Mexico.
You'd think they could've placed it somewhere more convenient.
Would there not be enough space perhaps in Alcaldia Milpa Alta?
I don't know.
Let's get back to the event anyhow.
How Good Was the Food?
Overall, it was pretty good.
There's a few things to say.
First, the waiter was pretty good.
Second, the rice could've been a little bit warmer.
Third, while the soup wasn't bad, I'm not sure I would've ordered the combo with the soup.
It's only 20 pesos more with the soup when you look at the menu so it's not much to think about.
I just didn't care for it that much.
Fourth, the queso fundido was pretty good. I liked it a lot.
Fifth, the chicken with mole was also very good.
The only thing I'd say about the chicken with mole was that I ended up ordering way too much of it.
They had a smaller version and a big version.
I probably could've skipped the queso fundido or order the queso fundido with a smaller chicken.
The portion size they gave me is more fitting for 2 people.
I still don't think of the local food in Mexico in terms of their own measuring system versus back home so I didn't know how much I'd be ordering.
I straight up couldn't eat anymore after finishing almost all of it.
Granted, I also had a pambazo about an hour and half before that meal so I wasn't starving when I showed up.
If you aren't starving yourself, just get the half portion.
At any rate, it was pretty good overall.
After that, I went back to the old lady that was sitting with her husband and bought some mole to bring home.
Had them give me "small portions" of each style of mole they had (about 5 to 10 pesos worth each).
And did the same with other vendors I saw.
You can see the bags of mole here.
For more information on that, check out this other article I wrote here.
Going Back to Iztapalapa
It was around 7:30 PM when I was leaving the event and it was getting dark outside.
When I walked out, I asked some local dude standing outside of the main entrance that was selling tamales to anyone passing by if he knew how to get out of here.
Given there is a very busy road on the outside of this event, it's not the most pedestrian friendly.
He said you probably aren't getting a taxi but could order Uber?
It's moments like this where I wish I would take the effort to put data on my phone.
No Uber for me!
That's why I wanted a restaurant with Wifi.
He also recommended that, if you go to the left and keep walking, you'll find a spot where buses will stop.
So I get walking.
It was maybe a 3 minute walk until I find the bus stop.
Behind the bus stop were some closed restaurants.
Of course, they are closed. If they were open, maybe I could use their Wifi.
While standing around waiting, I do try to get the occasional taxi to stop but they all ignore me and speed right past.
Finally, a bus stops.
It takes me to Metro Taxqueña.
At least now I know one road that has public transportation to escape Milpa Alta and get back to the rest of the city.
I get on the bus.
And in roughly an hour or hour and a half is when I manage to get to Metro Taxqueña.
From there, I take the metro to Metro Cerro de la Estrella.
While on the metro, I notice two young folks that were making out a bit aggressively.
She was sitting down while he was leaning down to make out.
With his hands on her tits and her hands on his ....
Use your imagination.
When a seat was available half way down the train, I went on over to sit down as I wasn't interested in watching a soft porno.
Funny though was the fact that there was an older gentleman that looks like he goes to church 7 days a week that was sitting right in front of them.
He had consistently was looking at them with a disgusted look: "this is not what Jesus would approve of."
To the point that you aren't sure if the two are straight up about to fuck right there. Can't we get them a motel?!
Finally, given I was in Iztapalapa at night, I didn't feel like walking the streets with my nice phone and 75 bucks worth of cash on me.
So I take a taxi once I get to Cerro de la Estrella.
It was only 15 pesos or 75 cents for the ride.
And that was the night.
Final Verdict: Worth Going to the Feria Nacional del Mole?
Sure. Why not?
If you got a day to kill, go for it.
They have been holding this event for over a week in Milpa Alta.
Not sure how many days exactly but the event is still going on this year until October 23, 2022.
In future years, I imagine they'll be hosting it on several days also just like other "ferias" for certain food items in Mexican cuisine do.
The main downside obviously is that you have to travel all the way to Milpa Alta to get there.
But if you like Mexican cuisine and want to learn more about it, then sure.
Plus, I personally do like Milpa Alta.
I think it makes for a great place to get in a taxi and just drive around.
It's very different from the rest of Mexico City in so many ways and seeing the rural countryside as you are driven around is quite nice.
Reminds me of home.
Plus, if I had to imagine, probably the mole is maybe a tiny bit cheaper in Milpa Alta than the rest of Mexico City since so much is made there.
So, if you do show up, make sure to also buy a variety of it to take home.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.