Legend has it that mole was created in response to a crisis. When the nuns at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla were served notice that the Archbishop would be dropping by, so the story goes, they had a 16th-century version of a hostess freakout. This was like a member of the royal family visiting your village, and the impoverished sisters had nothing to offer but a tough old turkey and what few spices remained in the pantry. Prayer followed, then inspiration, and by grinding and creatively mixing an unlikely combination of ingredients—chiles, spices, nuts, seeds, day-old bread, fruit and even a bit of chocolate—they created a flavorful and completely original sauce that managed to please even a prince of the church.
This Saturday you can taste numerous versions of the nuns’ inspired improvisation at the 3rd Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival at the Mission Adobe. This year the Festival, like a time-tested recipe, consolidates lessons learned and refines its formula. No fewer than four mariachi bands—double the number from last year—will take the stage. Two home cooks will participate in the mole competition alongside the pros from El Chipotle, El Jardin, My Mom’s Mole and India Joze. And in an effort to improve the flow of 2000+ attendees through the Mission Adobe courtyard, some rearranging is taking place. This year the mole contestants’ booths will be lined up in front of the Adobe, while the musical stage and dancing area will be in the far corner near the Mission Street staircase. On the patio, food vendors El Chipotle, Taqueria Lidia, Sazon Mexico, Garcia Fish Tacos and The Penny Ice Creamery will feed the masses, while beer from Discretion Brewing and chavelas (beer, tomato juice and spices) will slake the most serious thirst.
Meanwhile, piñatas every hour, a running raffle, crafts vendors and tours of the Mission will keep the party going. We hear the popular mojiganga dancers will be back to add the special touch only giant papier-mache puppets can bring to a shindig. View the schedule of events here.
And the whole thing will help festival organizer Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks keep the Mission Adobe in ship-shape and safe for visitors as it heads into its 25th year as a public park. Read the details on Hilltromper.
MOLE & MARIACHI FESTIVAL, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School St, Santa Cruz (on Mission Hill, overlooking downtown). Saturday, Sept. 19, 11am-5pm. Admission is free; mole tasting kits are $10.