ze6ke (ze6ke) wrote,

The Jaded Traveler and the Quest for the Seven Moles

Before the sun had come up one chilly Oaxacan morning, Ze6ke, the Jaded traveler, was dropped off at the local bus station. Oaxaca is a town in Mexico. But not just any town. Oaxaca is culinary haven famous for 7 flavors of mole, a special style of sauce. That is what brought our hero here, he had come to find and conquer each of the flavors.

Ze6ke knew that the quest would be difficult, the flavors were certainly more than he would be able to conquer in on sole day. So, he began by finding a safe haven to rest and recover from the onerous battles with the local cuisine. After walking for some time, he came upon an inn called “Hostal Pochon” and decided to make his base here. But, he had not even arrived at the hostel before being confronted by his first challenger at a local market. His challengers were a Natilla (a type of Mexican stirred pudding), Arroz con Leche, and pumpkin juice. This enemies were quickly dispatched, even though it would be incorrect to say that they were dispatched before before breakfast. The Natilla was quite pleasant, the Arroz con Leche was good, and the pumpkin juice was strange. Our hero also encountered many of the seeds of his challengers, but, as a gentleman, refused to engage them until they had been fully developed. His wallet lightened by 33 pesos, our hero felt that he had started his quest well.

In the afternoon, Ze6ke felt ready to engage the king of the moles, the Mole Negro. This mole is famous for consuming some 20 spices in its production and is so successful that it has spread its darkness through much of the world. Our hero had decided to engage it in its own lair. Leading up to the Mole Negro, it was necessary to dispatch several minions: a Tortilla Soup, Horchata, and a Crème Caramel. The Tortilla Soup was bristling with flavors and textures, ranging from the hot and crunchy of the tortillas and pork rinds to the cool and smooth of the avocado. All this was supported by a flavorful soup base. Fortunately, even after 2 years without significant exercise, the taste buds of our hero were still well developed and highly skilled and he quickly routed the soup.

The Mole Negro, however, had complexities of flavor to be found nowhere else. Mole Negro in other environments has several layers of flavor that can stun a novice gastronome, but that is a mere shadow of the beast that lives in Oaxaca. The ingredients in Oaxaca are much fresher which allows hundreds of new flavors to hide inside of the devilish black paste. All this was sitting on a perfectly cooked chicken breast and accompanied by rice. After the first taste, doubts entered the mind of our hero. But, he had learned that doubt never lightens a loud and he charged ahead with everything he had; eventually triumphing; wiping the last remnants of the mole from his plate using the rice. The only true cost of the meal being 50 pesos (about $5).

On another day, Ze6ke decided to go to the haven of all flavors in Oaxaca, the central market. He knew that this could be the most dangerous of his missions, so he went with a party of four brave adventurers. Shortly after entering this dark haven, they were accosted by a Chapulines saleswoman. Our hero, showing his bravery, quickly accepted the offer to eat a Chapulin (look it up), but decided that, though it was pleasantly crunchy and had a nice earthy flavor, it was prepared with an unfortunate amount of lemon and decided to not accept the challenge of eating an entire bag. One other of the adventurers later accepted the challenge and agreed that the lemon was unfortunate. After having traveling for less than 50 feet through the crowded market, Ze6ke was accosted by a new challenger, Champurrado (a drink made from chocolate and corn). The beverage was better prepared than the Chapulines had been and was a pleasant way to consume chocolate. After an hour of exploring (and helping someone purchase a stylish hand-woven bag), the party arrived at the inner sanctuary. This was a giant cavern filled hundreds of merchants clamoring to rid themselves of their cursed moles. One vendor in particular offered Mole Rojo for the price of 25 pesos. Unfortunately, our party got what it paid for. The chicken was overcooked and flavorless. The sauce itself was smokey, but didn't have much depth to its flavor. As any brave adventurer would understand, our hero left feeling unsatisfied by not having been offered a worthy challenger.

It was two more days before the next serious challenge was presented. The challenge came at La Casa De La Abuela, which would turn out to be a veritable minefield of local cuisine. Here Ze6ke encountered El Amarillo. Not to be confused with the yellow mole. No, this dish is so famous and powerful that it only has one name, like a rockstar. This, however, doesn't give a true sense of the gravity of the battle that was about to take place. On this same day, in this same venue, a battle would also be waged with Almendrado. With the gravity of this encounter, our hero was almost totally overwhelmed and failed to photograph the food. El Amarillo was a simple sauce that could almost be compared to a typical green salsa in any Mexican restaurant. Though it was well prepared, it was not a worthy challenger for our favorite gourmand. He left the vanquishing of the Amarillo to his shield bearer. Our hero tackled the Almendrado. The Almendrado could easily be compared to a Korma curry from India. It was a marvelous balance of flavors; a worthy opponent for even the most trained palate. In the end, both plates were well vanquished. But, the cost was high. In addition to 120 pesos per plate, our hero's party had to rest, speaking of philosophy for two hours before moving on.

Through the rest of the time in Oaxaca, our hero battled Guave Mole, a smorgasboard of Oaxacan foods and one more encounter with Almandredo. On researching the enemy, it was discovered that one of the 7 moles, Pepían, had already fallen in Guatemala. Unfortunately, the Green Mole showed great cowardice. That battle will have to wait for another day.

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