Mole de Xico: How This Dish Made Its Town's Name

Mole de Xico | © Joselu Blanco / Flickr
Mole de Xico | © Joselu Blanco / Flickr
Photo of Stephen Woodman
28 September 2017

The Mexican city of Puebla lays proud claim to mole, the rich nut, fruit, and chili sauce that is widely regarded as the country’s national dish. In the southern state of Oaxaca, there are no less than seven entirely different, highly elaborate ways of preparing the sauce. But the most complex variety of all is made in the tiny town of Xico, in the coastal state of Veracruz.

The famous Mole de Xico contains no less than 25 ingredients, including three types of chili, prunes, plantain, garlic, onion, cloves, cinnamon, dark sugar, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, stock, tortilla, and bitter chocolate.

Mole de Xico ingredients | © Irish Typepad / Flickr

This range of multi-colored and multi-textured ingredients echoes the abundant variety of nature surrounding Xico. The brightly colored church and central plaza are ringed by rolling mountains, forests, waterfalls, creeks, and coffee plantations.

Designated a “Magic Town” by Mexico’s Tourist Board, the elegant market village is recognized as a hub of magic and witchcraft as well as a hotbed of unique, vibrant cuisine.

The fertile hills of Veracruz are famed for their coffee, tropical fruits, and vanilla. The local beverage, torito is a blend of rum, milk, fruit and grains. This alcoholic drink is sold in peanut, mango, peach, coconut, passion fruit, caramel and coffee flavors.

Visitors also come from far and wide to sample the flor de izote, or yucca blossom. This edible palm flower is only available in May and June and is a product that combines with a wide variety of foods, from soups to scrambled eggs.

Cactus wren on a yucca blossom | © warrenlynn / Flickr

Yet, the number one delicacy in Xico is the local variation of mole. As with other varieties of the dish, the thick sauce is used to accompany meat and poultry dishes. The complex qualities of mole de Xico are the result of the wide range of ingredients and the extended cooking process, which brings out new flavors as the sauce is stirred and stirred again.

The final product is a salty and spicy sauce with multiple layers of flavor. The dish is found throughout Veracruz and is known to chefs throughout the county.

Food is an essential part of the local economy and contributes heavily to tourism in the region. Visitors from the capital are a common sight in Xico, with many heading for a weekend getaway so they can sample the delicious local dishes.

Mole de Xico is also a highly symbolic and representative dish. The iconic sauce is made by blending Aztec ingredients (tortilla and bitter chocolate) with European ones (onions, garlic, and cinnamon).

Mole de Xico | © Ivette Degollado / Flickr

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