Saturday, August 18, 2007

Update on mole-eating progress

Don’t let people tell you that “estofada” is one of the seven moles of Oaxaca. It isn’t, as delicious as it is, not according to people I trust. According to Susana Trilling, moles always involve cooking the meat separately from the sauce, while an estofada translates literally as a stew, the meat cooked in it. Soledad Ramirez agrees that estofada is not a mole. I thought by getting a mole sampler at Los Pacos, I would finally try all seven, but they only had six and it included estofada.

Counterclockwise from the bottom darkest one, we were told they were negro, amarillo, verde, chichilo, estofada and rojo. The people at Los Pacos were nice, and even gave Erin a bib to eat with, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the restaurant because the high prices weren’t justified by the food, which could be had in equal quality elsewhere.

Also, I’m now thoroughly confused because I can’t figure out the difference between rojo and coloradito. Los Pacos’s rojo tasted just like coloradito to me. Googling recipes online doesn’t help, as there’s no consensus, but again, according to Susana Trilling, only coloradito and negro include chocolate. So what the hell are the people selling at Chocolate Mayordomo as prepared rojo mole paste? It may be that I haven’t had both, just one, I just don’t know which one.

At least I know I had chichilo for sure, as I ordered it expressly at Casa del Tio Guero, or “Uncle Whitey’s House.” It was the day my camera died for the first time, so there’s no photographic record. In addition to burning chiles, a tortilla is burnt, making chichilo even smokier than mole negro. It’s generally served with green beans and vegetables, as well as meat. It had a fruitier, tarter flavor, while being bitter at the same time, and frankly, I didn’t like it, but Susana Trilling says it’s very good, and I imagine it’s the kind of thing where I need to try a better version.

Sadly, manchamantel, or tablecloth stainer, remains elusive.

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