Mole (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmole]) (Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl mulli or molli, "sauce" or "concoction") is the generic name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside of Mexico, it often refers to a specific sauce which is known in Spanish by the more specific name mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar to one another, including black, red, yellow, colorado, green, almendrado, and pipián. The sauce is most popular in the central and southern regions of the country with those from Puebla and Oaxaca the best known, but 60% of the mole eaten in the country comes from San Pedro Atocpan near Mexico City.
Three states in Mexico claim to be the origin of mole, Puebla, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala. The states with the best known moles are Puebla and Oaxaca, but other regions in Mexico also make various types of mole sauces.
Moles come in various flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. However, the classic mole version is the variety called mole poblano, which is a dark red or brown sauce served over meat. The dish has become a culinary symbol of Mexico’s mestizaje, or mixed indigenous and European heritage, both for the types of ingredients it contains as well as the legends surrounding its origin.
The most common version of the legend takes place at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla sometime early in the colonial period. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns went into a panic because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, chili peppers, spices, day-old bread nuts and a little chocolate and more. They killed an old turkey they had, cooked it and put the sauce on top. And the archbishop loved it.
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