The Gospel according to my mole

Not like a skin mole people.  Gross.  The Mexican sauce that is rich and nutty and chocolatey and delicious.  Mo – lay.

I had been standing over the stove ALL DAY working on my mole poblano sauce como una abuelita mexicana and feeling pretty darn accomplished.  Four different kinds of chiles.  Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, raisins, thyme, majoram, a stick of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, pepper, fennel seed, corriander seed, roasted tomatoes and tomatillos, day old bread and corn tortillas.  I was even up before dawn to roast my own chicken and make my own broth.  (Not because I really needed to be cooking that early, but because my 2 year old likes to torture me and I thought I might as well make myself useful while he inhales his two bowls of oatmeal)

This mole was going to be delicious (see how I said “going to be”.  Foreshadowing).  How can you put so much work into something and not have it turn out tasting like heaven?  My kids even played nicely outside where I could watch them from the kitchen window while tediously de-stemming and de-seeding anchos, pasillas, mulatos and chipotles.  It was hard work now, but not having to prepare much for the next two nights would make it worth it.

(side note: In an act of desperation to save our budget and save my sanity in meal planning and celebrate our love for other nations and cultures, I have drastically changed how I cook and menu plan – last week we did all Indian food – I cooked three curry dishes that we ate with rice or homemade naan for a week.  This week is mole with chicken 2-3 days followed by a cuban ropa vieja for 2-3 days, all served with rice and black beans and tortillas.  Yum.  Last week was AWESOME I could eat those curry dishes forever…)

Jon had been out of town all weekend, planning to arrive back in Tucson just in time for dinner.  As I was giving a final stir to my mole, about ready to add the final, special ingredient that makes a mole a mole – chocolate – I realized I had accidently bought semi-sweet chocolate instead of unsweetened.  I called Jon, who was getting off the Freeway, and asked him to pick some up.

I snatched the chocolate from him as soon as he walked in the door and dumped it all in.  But the thing is, I shouldn’t have dumped it all in, I should only have added 6 oz.  As I tasted my labor of love, my perfect, rustic, authentic mexican mole poblano all I could taste was awful bitterness, followed by a lot of spice.  The chocolate had overwhelmed the whole batch.

My mole was ruined.

An entire day’s worth of blood, sweat and chile peppers had been spoiled at the last second because of a hasty move by a frazzled mom too impatient to care how much freakin’ chocolate got put in the pot.  Not just Sunday’s dinner, but Monday’s and Tuesday’s as well.  And the extra batch that was to go in the freezer.


Why couldn’t I have just not put that chocolate in?

Why couldn’t I somehow extract the chocolate from the sauce?

How come adding more broth isn’t fixing the situation?!

How could all my effort be in vain because of ONE STUPID ACT?

I had the recipe right in front of me.  SIX OUNCES!  Why couldn’t I follow simple instructions?

All these questions were not salvaging dinner for us, just making me more depressed and helping me realize how much I am like this mole.

And I don’t mean nutty, authentic or rich. Or Mexican for that matter.

I mean ruined.

I had been so patient and gentle with Evangeline.  Working hard not to shame, not to scold too much, not to lose my temper.  I could see it working.  I could see her responding, and dare I say modeling, my calm and loving attitude.  And then in a moment of exhaustion I snap at her, loudly and hurtfully.  And  I can’t undo that yell.  I can’t undo that look in her eyes.  I can’t erase that moment from her memory. 

That money I wasted.

That judgement I passed.

That time I said no.

That time I said yes.


For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

The instructions are right in front of my face.   Why can’t I just follow them correctly?

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Those words you said. 

That person you slept with.

That hatred inside.

That darkness you run to.


Ruined, like a Mexican mole, impossible to extract the bitter chocolate, like a cancer, incorporated fully into the chiles and the almonds and tortilla and tomatillos.

No matter how much I try to fix and add and dilute and do damage control, the flavor isn’t changed.

Is that my destiny?

Is it too late?


For tonight? For tomorrow night?  Forever?

Can’t ANYTHING be done?

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.



Yes I knew better.  Yes I caused harm.  Yes there are consequences.  Yes there is regret.  Yes I fail.  Yes I am hurt.

But, I will make a way for you.

The biggest “but” ever uttered.


In the ways that I couldn’t go back in time to prevent my careless hand from dumping too much chocolate into my mole, nor take out the bitter after it had blended homogeneously with the other ingredients – Jesus can. 

Jesus, in his sacrifice, is able to do that with my sin. With your sin, too. 

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Dirtied, bloodied, tainted, ugly, broken, depressed, regretful.

Cleaned, healed, innocent, beautiful, whole, joyful, free.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Not ruined.  Redeemed.


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