Mole made easy…
Cesario Ruiz created My Mom’s Mole to focus on sustaining traditional Mexican cuisine using responsibly sourced ingredients. He launched it in 2013 and now distributes it to specialty grocery stores throughout the Bay Area.
Growing up in Andocutin, Guanajuato, a small village in Mexico, better known as El Bajio (one of the richest zones in the agricultural and livestock production), Cesario comes from a traditional family where cooking formed part of the quotidian life. It was at the age of 11 that he asked his mother to let him cook a meal for the entire family (he has eight siblings!). With mom’s guidance and support, he was able to accomplish his goal.
His passion for cooking was just getting started…
His first official food service-related job was as a dishwasher in a commercial kitchen. His interest for cooking made him advance in the kitchen, and after a few months in the restaurant he was promoted to the prep station, then to cook and finally, store manager. With limited room for growth in that position, he decided to explore other options. He worked for two prominent local businesses while mastering the financial and administrative sides of food service. Ultimately, this led him to create My Mom’s Mole.
Currently, his time is spent on building his brand while also working as Facility Manager for the kitchen incubator operated by the El Pájaro Community Development Corporation—a non-profit organization based in Watsonville, California that offers (among other services) no-cost technical assistance to local entrepreneurs developing their own food products and brands.
He believes fundamentally that the best way to create stronger connections between people is to share anything you excel at—pay it forward.
The story of mole
The story of the origin of mole is steeped in folklore from the 16th and 17th centuries, though as we’ll soon see it’s even older than that.
Two popular competing figures from Puebla, Mexico, Sor (Sister) Andrea of the Assumption and Fray (Brother) Pascual Bailón, a Dominican nun and Franciscan brother respectively, are said to have separately created what we know as mole.
Sor Andrea was tasked with preparing a feast for the visiting viceroy Don Tomás Antonio. She concocts a mixture of chilies, chocolate, and spices resulting in mole—so called because she spent hours muele y muele (grinding and grinding) until it reached her desired consistency delighting all at the feast and posterity.
In the second tale , Fray Pascual, who like Sor Andrea is the principal cook in his convent, is in a hurry to prepare a meal for the visit of an important archbishop. He accidentally drops a bar of soap into his cooking pot, ruining the dish. In angst, he throws various chilies, chocolate, and spices in a different pot where’s he cooking turkey. This concoction became mole poblano and delighted his guests going on to become one of Mexico’s culinary jewels.
These origin stories have been passed down orally ever since. More recently, research shows that mole was an important part of pre-Columbian cuisine (i.e. at least 200 years before Sor Andrea and Fray Pascual!). Mole’s invention can be traced back to the Aztecs—in fact the word mole comes from molli, a Náhuatl word meaning sauce, mixture, or stew. Molli was a thick sauce comprised of chilies, spices and chocolate and paired with a variety of meats though most frequently with turkey.
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The ever-versatile mole
Some moles have as few as five ingredients while others have more than 30—My Mom’s Mole contains 25! Mole’s versatility comes not only from the spices and ingredients but also from a personal touch mixed with the multiple culinary worldviews that have influenced it over time.
Adapted from Méndez-Montoya, The Theology of Food: Eating and the Eucharist.
Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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