Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Interview with Lila Downs

Care, dedication and a soupcon of imagination are required to make a great mole (not the animal) sauce. Like all recipes handed down through the generations, the traditional essence of the Mexican dish can be enhanced with a little experimentation.
The combination of chocolate, chilli and (most often) chicken is an acquired taste, of course, and not one that appeals to all palates this side of the Sierra Madre.

To singer Lila Downs, however, mole represents more than just her favourite meal. The Mexican delicacy is a staple in the Oaxaca region where Downs spent her early childhood. It's as much a part of the culture there as the traditional folk music she grew up listening to and singing to her mother. That's why, for her most recent album, La Cantina, she wrote a song, La Cumbia del Mole, that pays tribute to the women of Oaxaca who make the dish and to its central role in the region's culture.

"It has such a ritual surrounding it," she says from her home in Mexico City, "from roasting all the ingredients and hanging in the kitchen and the smells that come out. It's something that you definitely miss when you are far away from Oaxaca."
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