A cumbia beat drops and the soft voice of a woman transports us to another land. One where the people imbibe mezcal with coffee and indulge in mole. But it’s not long before we find ourselves cooking a decadent sauce for a fiesta.
Mole is a sauce that is so delicious that there is a song about it – “Cumbia del Mole“. Mexican singer and songwriter Lila Downs celebrates this regional dish of Mexico through poetic verse. She sings of Saint Soledad, who is blessing them as they prepare an authentic mole.
A rhythmic passion pushes Lila through the Spanish lyrics as she rattles through the ingredients one by one. As she grinds through a recipe of a mole, you can almost smell the warm aromatics in the air.
Se muele con cacahuateLila Downs “Cumbia del Mole”
Se muele también el pan
Se muele la almendra seca
Se muele el chile también la sal
Se muele ese chocolate
Se muele la canela,
Se muele pimienta y clavo
Se mueve la molendera
“Cumbia de Mole” in English
Translated into English, “Cumbia de Mole” recites a recipe for preparing a mole with a fusion of flavors. Peanuts, bread, almonds, chilis, chocolate, and cinnamon are among the array of ingredients celebrated in Lila’s tribute to this traditional sauce. (Listen to the English version in the video below).
In the song, each ingredient is given special attention, just as when preparing a mole. It reminds one of how important it is to toast and grind everything with patience and love when cooking. The more you respect your ingredients and put love into your food when you make it, the better it will taste when you eat it.
As in Mexico where many of life’s milestones are celebrated with a meal of mole, this song rejoices in the wonders of Mexican cooking. So, when you find yourself in the kitchen, put on the music of Lila Downs and cook the afternoon away with a rich mole.
Lila Downs illustration by Xhico.