Page 21 - The Valley Table - January/February 2021
P. 21

                                    by mike diago
photos by meghan spiro
ISHOULDERED THROUGH THE DOOR of El Paso Mexican Restaurant in Highland early on a Saturday. Grocery bags swinging from my fists, the bells hanging from the door banged in a morning alert. Owner and Chef Rosalía Jiménez* poked her head out from the kitchen and called me over. She slapped her hand on the counter, and I heaved all of the bags on top. She began to sort, “You forgot the bread. Did you try [La Amistad on] Mill Street?”
I had not. She left the kitchen and returned cradling a bunch of sesame seed loaves. “We’ll use these so we don’t have to add the seeds separately; you use what you have.”
My lesson had begun. But mole isn’t learned so much as coded into your fibers. Jiménez’s mole is a rich lava of chilies, chocolates, nuts, seeds, and spices, bubbled up through layers of family and cultural history. It can only be tasted occasionally, when she can recruit a friend to spend a long day making it with her. When I asked if I could be that friend for a day, I was surprised that she narrated a long grocery list and told me to show up on Saturday at 6:30 a.m.

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