Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mole Sauce

On Sunday, I made Mole.  Mole is a sauce used in Latin-American cooking.  The main ingredients are tomatoes, peppers and unsweetened chocolate.  But there are also lots of spices, and the process of making mole involves steps and processes that balance all the flavors.

I began by turning on the music, as I do every time I cook.  This morning it was jazz, brought to me by our local public radio station here in Eugene, KLCC.  To the haunting voice of Sarah Vaughn, I toasted Ancho and Guajillo peppers, sesame seeds and slivered almonds.  Then came Cumin, Cloves, Thyme and Oregano.  Then onions, garlic and tomatoes, all in the proper order, all with their own process.

The house began to smell like magic.  Charlie Parker’s sax provided background as the spices muddled.  Outside, the sun shone with autumn clarity as I sautéed and simmered all the subtle ingredients.  My home felt warm and spicy as I sprinkled chocolate into my simmering sauce, the last step.  I dipped out a small taste with my wooden spoon.  It was perfectly balanced, thick and tomato-y, the spices coming through in layers.  I ate some more, right out of the pot, just to savor the way the spices happened in my mouth, one after the other.

Three hours had gone by since I started.  It is a very curious sensation, when time goes away.  Tasting my mole, I had the sense that I had a put in a lot of work, done many steps.  But I had no sense of those three hours passing.  I put the mole away, put on my jacket, and walked into town under soaring maple trees bright with autumn leaves.

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