Yesterday, I went to the Feria Nacional del Mole in Milpa Alta.
For those who don't know, mole is a type of sauce they put on food and it can be prepared in many different ways.
Here's a Wikipedia description of it below.
"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."
Keep in mind that this event was held on a busy road slightly north of San Pedro Atocpan in Milpa Alta.
They have it every year.
And San Pedro Atocpan is well known for its mole as it produces almost all of the mole consumed in Mexico City.
This same neighborhood also invaded an old neighborhood I used to live in called Pedregal de Santo Domingo by sending a group to do a live performance while walking to a church as I wrote about here.
Anyway, when I finished my time there, I bought some mole from some woman that first approached me out of all of the other vendors.
She seemed really determined at first to get me to buy her mole.
Gave me 5 free samples.
Looked severely disappointed when I told her that I had to keep walking to find a restaurant but that I'll be back.
Come back, I did.
I asked her to give me a small sample of each of her mole options.
Then I became confused when her husband finished the first bag and asked me "is this good?"
The bag was of decent size and I thought that perhaps they understood me as saying that I want to spend 100 pesos (5 bucks) per bag.
When I wanted to spend 100 pesos in total for the very small samples of each of their moles.
However, he assured me that "yeah, I understand. This is the small sample."
So small sample, it must've been!
Was honestly surprised at the amount they were giving me for the very little I was paying per bag.
They ended up getting the other bags ready.
Given I wasn't paying attention, I soon noticed they were filling small bags up of ingredients that were not any style of mole.
Since they were already getting those bags ready, I didn't say anything and went along with it.
I just wanted mole but I was fine with whatever else they were going to give me.
Afterwards, I went to two other spots to buy mole.
There was a woman right next to the couple mentioned above that tried to get my attention.
I figured I might as well buy from her since she seemed determined to get customers and I guess she could've felt disappointed to see customers ignoring her and going straight for the couple next door.
Ordered some styles of mole that the older couple didn't have.
Then I went to the next spot but, after a few minutes of waiting, nobody came to ask me what I wanted to buy.
So then I went to the next spot that had a middle aged man and what seemed to be his son working there.
With both that younger gal and this middle aged man and his son, I asked both of them to just give me "5 pesos worth" of specific styles of mole that I hadn't bought yet.
With the gal, I had some "mole poblano" and "mole tamarindo" and I think two styles of "mole especial" or whatever it was called.
"Mole Especial Gourmet" was one I think.
With the middle aged dude and his son, I bought from them "7 chiles," "3 chocolates" and "manzana."
The rest came from that older couple I first bought from.
Here is everything I bought.
Trying Out the Mole
Today at around 8 AM, I figured I'd give the mole a try.
For those who don't know, I have a rat who invades my current apartment and so I had to put the mole away in my backpack so he wouldn't steal it.
Haven't seen or heard from the little guy in a few days though.
Anyway, as I was going through my bag, I noticed that half of the bags were not easy to figure out what type of mole they had.
Or if they had mole at all since some of the bags I bought from that older couple were not mole.
But I did have each vendor scribble down on the bag what the mole was in each one.
That way I could know which type of mole I like the most and also compare each one for this article.
Reading the little scribbles though was like trying to read a doctor's note.
Makes my handwriting look good.
Actually, it felt more like being a contestant on a Spanish language version of Jeopardy.
Jeopardy Mexico February 9, 1999
Where you are looking intently at a bag and you see an F and and A and a T.
Fuck. What could that spell?
But then, in other cases like you can see here, I was stumped.
I have no idea what this says.
Is this even mole or one of those few bags with something else from that older couple?
Anyway, there were 9 bags specifically I couldn't decipher.
And the remaining I could.
I still tried the other bags though that I couldn't decipher.
They tasted fine. Some of them not THAT different from the rest of the mole.
And, after having tried all of it, all of these styles of mole really don't taste THAT different from each other.
They each have their own slight variances but some more tasty than others nonetheless.
Anyway, what are my thoughts on each one?
Spicy with a hint of chocolate.
It's not too spicy though. Not at all.
But has a hint of something more spicy than any other mole I tried.
A bit like vodka tamarindo.
You'd want some water though if eating this with anything like chicken.
If I'm not mistaken, I think this is the most popular style of mole out there.
I've tried it already before when eating Mexican food.
I've always liked it.
With the bag I had, I could eat the whole bag honestly.
Very small spice to it but not really.
For more basic information on mole poblano, check this out here:
"Por mucho tiempo se creyó que el mole fue creado en 1685 por sor Andrea de la Asunción en un convento en Puebla, pero investigadores hallaron indicios de que el mole, en su forma original, existía desde mucho tiempo antes."
Manzana means apple in Spanish.
As you can imagine, obviously it has apple taste.
And it actually is representative of how you can have your mole prepared with certain tastes like manzana, coco, etc.
I saw other styles of mole at the event that had select tastes made to certain fruits or whatever.
Of course, the American in mean wonders if they could design a mole with some "tocino" or bacon taste.
If they can pull it off for apple, why not bacon?
This is one I had to have the black tea ready on standby.
With the name like "7 chilis," you can only imagine how spicy it was going to be.
About ready to send me to the hospital.
Then I tried it.
At first, nothing spicy.
But sometimes the spice comes after like a punch to the face.
Another few seconds go by and it still doesn't taste anything spicy.
Not at all spicy.
Reminded me of a certain food you have in Mexico called "chile en nogada" as I wrote about here.
Or, similar to "chile relleno de queso," you try either one for the first time thinking this thing is going to set a fire inside your mouth.
But then it never does.
You shouldn't be fooled by the word chili.
Kinda tasty actually.
I liked it.
Could finish the whole bag if I wanted to.
I know I was given "Pipian" but wasn't 100% sure if this was it.
The bag though, when playing a game of Jeopardy, makes you think it is Pipian.
"I see a P and an I and a N...."
But still a little bit hard to make out the word.
Anyway, it wasn't really that tasty.
Thought it was more bland or less interesting than others.
I wouldn't eat a whole bag of this.
Also, I'm not sure if this counts as mole but I did find some articles online saying it is. I have no idea but it came free so I tried it anyhow.
For more information on pipian, check this out here:
"Es un guisado típico mexicano que tuvo su origen en el México prehispánico. De a cuerdo con los relatos de Fray Bernardino de Sagahún, en su libro Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, Moctezuma disfrutaba mucho del pipián y asegura que los indígenas le llamaban al platillo, totolin patzcalmollo."
Similar to Poblano, I think this one is one of the more popular styles of mole also from what I've gathered over the years.
I've already tried it on several occasions beforehand.
And I liked it.
It did have an extra bit of a fruit taste to it compared to other moles.
Slightly more spice to it also.
Could also keep eating it.
For more information on mole oaxaqueño, check this out here:
"El estado de Oaxaca goza de una gran riqueza cultural y gastronómica reconocida a nivel mundial. Este lugar se divide en 8 regiones, cada una de las cuales tiene una variedad de moles diferentes, se dice que los moles de Oaxaca en realidad se cuentan por docenas, lo cual es totalmente cierto.
Esparcidos por todo el estado, algunos ejemplos son el mole alcaparrado, el almendrado, el mole amarillo de res del Istmo, un mole amarillo serrano de venado, coloradito con ayocotes, mole coloradito tradicional oaxaqueño, los estofados de almendras y de pollo, el ma’ach, mole de bueno o de fiesta huajuapeño, el coloradito istmeño, el manchamanteles de Oaxaca, mole mixteco, el mole verde de Yucunama, mole de frijol colorado y el verde de pollo con chochoyotes… por mencionar solo algunos, dependiendo del lugar la receta es adaptada para su región utilizando diferentes ingredientes y preparándolo de manera diferente, con el toque propio de cada zona demográfica y su cultura."
I'm not really sure what "3 styles of chocolate" they use to make this.
But, as you can imagine, it obviously has a chocolate taste to it.
Small spice as usual.
Could keep eating it. I liked it.
As you can imagine, this mole is supposed to have almonds in it.
I'm not 100% sure this was the "mole almendrado" that I purchased but I think it is.
Looks like mole almendrado I see in the photos on Google.
Has something that kinda looks like small almonds in it.
The bag itself starts with an "A," has an "l" and the overall word kinda looks like "almendrado."
Anyway, it has a small bit of a fruit taste to it and the spice is a tiny bit stronger.
Similar to what you hear about when googling it.
And, as you can see here, it seems to be a classic from San Pedro Atocpan also.
"This is a type of mole from the area around Mexico City, specifically San Pedro Atocpan where 60% of the moles consumed in Mexico are produced. This mole includes fire roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic along with sweet spices and a variety of dried chiles."
One of my favorites that I had out of all the other moles.
In fact, I'm eating it out of the bag as I type this now.
I know I ordered mole verde but wasn't 100% sure which bag it was out of the two bags I have with something green in them.
I tried both bags just to be sure.
But the one you see in the photo has the letter "v" scribbled on it.
Did I guess right, Alex Trebek?
Anyway, it has to be one of the two and I tried both.
My impression anyhow of it was that it wasn't that tasty.
I wouldn't eat it again.
I've tried it before also used on an actual meal and never cared for it.
For more brief information on mole verde, check this out here:
"El mole verde es uno de los célebres siete moles de Oaxaca. Por lo regular la salsa es espesa y se elabora con miltomate, chile de agua o serrano, ajo, clavo, pimienta, perejil, cilantro, epazote, hierba santa y masa de maíz; a veces incluye verduras en trozos como ejotes y chayotes."
Though I can't read the whole word on the bag, I'm pretty confident it says "fruta" with the legible F, T and A.
And I know I bought some "fruta" mole also.
Anyway, as you can guess, it obviously has a fruit taste to it.
What else is there to say?
I liked it. That's all.
This mole isn't bad.
But like many other moles I've tried.
A tiny bit more spicy than others though with a small hint of chocolate flavor to it.
Not as spicy as especial and it has a stronger hint of some fruit flavor to it.
But I can't put my finger on it regarding what type of fruit.
I quite liked it though. More than many other moles I've tried.
Not at all spicy.
Maybe a very very small hint of spice but not at all compared to other moles.
Has a hint of fruit to it also.
It's not bad.
I liked it but would prefer the spice to be a tiny bit stronger.
I'm not one though to go crazy on making things spicy but it could've been a little bit more.
Tastes good like any of the other moles anyhow.
A little bit different than other moles for, as you can see, it's more solid.
The chocolate taste to it is much more noticeable than in other moles I've tried.
A lot more.
A bit spicier too than other moles as well.
In contrast to the last mole tried with avellada, it actually could've been less spicy.
I quite liked it regardless.
Mole Ranchero Picoso
The name must be misleading.
Despite being called "picoso" as you can see from the bag, it didn't taste very spicy at all.
Especially when compared to other moles I had.
At first, I ate only a small sample out of the bag because I thought, given the name, it'd be much spicier than anything else I've had so far.
Completely not true.
Even the "sor juana" was spicier.
Maybe if I dump the whole bag in my mouth it'll become uncomfortably spicy (I did have more of it now and it's still not THAT spicy).
It has anyway a very small fruit flavor to it and you don't notice much of a chocolate taste to it unlike other moles.
It's OK. Not bad.
But I don't think I'd have it again.
Other moles were better.
Next, we have a mole called "picoso" that has a texture similar to the Sor Juana as you can see here.
I call it "regular picoso" even though it's just called "picoso" as it's not associated with any of the other moles like ranchero.
Well, a tiny bit more than the ranchero picoso version but again nothing crazy.
I honestly have no idea why they call it picoso if it's not spicier than most other moles I've tried.
Anyway, the chocolate taste to it is much more noticeable.
I liked it.
Try again? Not sure I would.
Other moles were better but this one wasn't bad.
None of these moles are bad really but this one isn't really special in my opinion.
When I opened the bag for this one, I noticed an odd smell to it right away.
Not a strong or bad smell even.
Just something different.
Anyway, given the name "gourmet," we should be expecting something fancy right?
Has more of a powdery texture to it than other moles I've had.
Anyway, it doesn't have any spice to it whatsoever.
And it has a very odd taste.
I don't know what to describe it as but I don't like it that much.
Just something odd about it.
Mole Especial con Ajonjoli
A tiny bit spicy but nothing crazy.
Chocolate taste is more noticable.
But it has something extra to it beyond the especial I tried earlier.
Not sure what to describe it as.
But it has these really tiny nut looking things mixed inside that make it much tastier.
Or whatever they are.
This is probably one of my favorite moles so far.
"Mole Ajonjoli" I suppose.
I could finish the whole bag.
The 9 Mysterious Bags
As I said, there were 9 bags that I don't have any idea what type of mole they are or which ones are not mole.
It's impossible to read the writing (even with a light shined onto them).
Anyway, I tried them.
Some tasted like mole and others didn't.
But none of them tasted that different from the other ones I've tried.
The usual mix of "this tastes more like fruit, this tastes more like chocolate, this one here also tastes more like chocolate, this one has some more spiciness to it, etc."
Anything to Add?
Above all, mole is a classic ingredient to Mexican cuisine.
What is always surprising is that most Mexican restaurants in my part of the US don't have it on the menu (even if run by Mexicans).
Or at least I don't remember ever seeing it up there.
It's always been my opinion that certain foods in Mexico would sell very well in the US.
I'm sure you could find mole in California or Texas though.
But definitely there are some foods from Mexico that really should be more commonly sold in the US because I think they'd be popular (even in places like Iowa).
Some things that come to mind outside of mole include gorditas or carne en su jugo for example.
Definitely not menudo. Fuck that nasty shit.
Whoever decides to open up a Mexican restaurant in Iowa or Ohio with those extra foods would make a killing though.
Business idea for you all right there.
For more thoughts on Mexican food, check out this article I wrote tasting over 160 different Mexican food or drink items.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
Enjoy this video on mole here for more information on this part of Mexican cuisine.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.