Holy Mole! is a Mexican folktale about the origin of the mole sauce written by Caroline McAlister and illustrated by Stefan Czernecki. This folktale tells the story of a young boy named Carlos, an orphan who works in the kitchen of a monastery. Carlos helps out with the cleaning and preparing in the kitchen in exchange for food straps. The story begins with the nervous anticipation of the viceroy coming to visit the monastery. The viceroy is known to be “the most important man in the colony of Mexico”. The cook and bishop are anxious about this visit and want everything to be perfect! They only have two hours to prepare and start to make tortillas, chop the chilies for the sauce and pluck the turkeys. Carlos is put in charge of the tortillas and works hard until he gets distracted by a raisin bun left on the floor unintentionally. As he hungrily reaches for the bun, he collides with Brother Pascual and his big tray of seasonings. What is on this big tray of seasonings and food? Almonds, onions, sesame seeds, chocolate, chilies, cumin, garlic, peanuts, raisins, pimentos, cinnamon and cilantro! Where do all of the food and seasonings land? In the big pot of turkey! “Dios mio!” the man cried which means OMG in English. Carlos was humiliated that he had ruined the meal. He holds his head in shame until he begins smelling the most delicious smell in the kitchen. It is a rich mixture of chilis, garlic, chocolate and cinnamon. The brothers decide to taste the sauce and it is absolutely delicious. Not only do they love the sauce, the viceroy thinks it is the best dish he has ever tasted! After eating a big bowl of turkey in mole sauce, Carlos feels satisfied and learns that sometimes the most unintentional mistakes yield some magical results!
Language and Learning Tips: As you are reading the story, define specific unfamiliar nouns and actions. Words such as viceroy and monastery should be defined so the child can understand the context of the story. My children were curious about what an orphan is and why Carlos was hungry and working for food. Each parent can find their own way of discussing this with your child. What is a viceroy? Does your child know where Mexico is? This can lead to a good conversation about geography and different cultures. If you aren’t familiar with Mexican cuisine, showing your child pictures of the various ingredients can help them visualize the foods. If you are shopping in the market, show your child the foods from the story. Most of the ingredients in the story are available at the grocery store. Discuss the various flavors and smells of the different ingredients. Begin a conversation about the valuable lesson of how mistakes teach us important lessons and how that relates to Carlos in the story. To learn more about cooking and storytelling, check out this article here at August House Publishers.
Are you a teacher? Check out Holy Mole Teacher Lesson Plan August House
To learn more about mole sauce, it’s origin and more, click here.
Want to try making it yourself? Check out this video here…
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