Holy “Mole”... I mean the sauce!
Ballymaloe Litfest of Food & Wine 19-21 May 2017
Submitted by J.R. Ryall on Mon, 30/03/2015 - 12:16pm
I felt butterflies in my stomach during the 3 hour drive from Mexico City. I was beyond excited to finally arrive. I had dreamt about this moment for months. I could hardly believe I was there! It was much more vivid in reality than I could ever have imagined. When I entered the airy kitchen for the first time two pots were gently simmering on the small gas burners built into a tiled “peninsula”. A large wooden table surrounded by chairs filled the other half of the room. One wall was dominated by a stunning collection of casuelas collected from across Mexico. A curious selection of coloured vinegars sat in the large window that looked onto an outdoor cooking area.
“The garlic crush was the worst thing ever invented”! Diana Kennedy exclaimed as she stressed the importance of crushing garlic by pressing it with a knife on a wooden board while preparing “Mole Poblano”. Diana is a perfectionist and she lets nothing stand between her and her vision. I had never tasted an authentically prepared Mole before. The balance of flavours is still clear in my mind. Not one of the ingredients, of which there were at least 20, dominated the thick sauce. Instead it was harmony.
For over half a century Diana has comprehensively travelled through Mexico and carefully documented its authentic food. Now in her 92nd year, with a memory as sharp as ever, Diana has turned her attention to creating the “Diana Kennedy center”, a not-for-profit foundation that will preserve her archive of work and act as a culinary research center for decades to come.
I first met Diana at Copenhagen’s MAD Food Symposium in 2013, but I didn't get to know her properly until last year’s LitFest at which she was a guest speaker. I met Diana many times during the LitFest weekend and before she left Ballymaloe she called me out of the pastry kitchen to compliment the buttery puff pastry I had made! I seized the moment, told her that I hoped to visit Mexico very soon, she extended an invite and I booked a flight!
I never thought I would have the opportunity to spend a whole week cooking with Diana Kennedy in her home!!! Diana Kennedy, the one and only, the rock star of Mexican food, it’s still hard to believe! I have LitFest to thank for the opportunity. To have a festival that doesn’t section off “VIP’s”, that encourages friendship and strong links to form between people and food communities across the world is a magical thing and a fantastic opportunity.
This year, JR’s Blog is back and I will keep you updated with the most exciting news, hot off the press from LitFest HQ. I’ll also invite some of this year’s star speakers to contribute blog entries over the coming weeks. So make sure to tune in, check out the incredible line-up of speakers, book your tickets and come along for the welcome party on Friday 15th May and enjoy the fantastic programme of events on 16th and 17th of May to meet your heroes. Who knows, you could end up booking a flight!