Continuing my reflections on the Mexico trip…
When it came to sampling Mexican food, the availability of a range of regional specialities pepped up my spirits in the same way that certain green chiles shook my tastebuds awake.
Some specialities are better described as hyper-local, such as mole de Xico, a thick smoky sauce which I enjoyed with chicken in the small town of that name not far from Xalapa.
A few days later I ordered the better-known mole poblano during my stay in Cholula, just outside the city of Puebla which gives its name to this interesting sauce consisting of fruit, nuts, chocolate and perhaps a range of other flavourings which, like the Coca-Cola recipe, must never be divulged.
Again, I had it with a chicken leg, its usual plate-fellow. In looks and consistency, the sauce was similar to the stuff you might pour over ice cream. It was both runnier and more chocolatey than the barbeque-esque Xico variant, yet by no means sweet, and certainly not overpoweringly so. I could still appreciate the chicken. A generous scattering of sesame seeds added a toasty, nutty contrast in taste and texture.
I was most impressed.
I didn’t take a photo, but if you imagine a roasted chicken leg, and then imagine chocolate sauce or custard, you’ll pretty much get the picture.
Here in Britain, the local food scene has taken quite a battering as we hasten in pursuit of a more mobile, less geographically tied future. What’s available in Devon is generally available in Kent and Buckinghamshire too.
But it seems to be a different matter in at least one country on the other side of the Atlantic. I’ve vowed that if I ever find myself anywhere near Puebla between the months of July and September, I’m going to have my fill of a dish that’s not only regional but seasonal – not in terms of ingredients but suitability for the time of year, like hot cross buns at Easter. I’m talking about chiles en nogada, which incorporates the green, white and red of the Mexican flag and is generally eaten in the couple of months leading up to Independence Day in September.