Well-traveled recipes: Mom’s mole

Since Luis Chavez immigrated to the U.S., he hasn't been able to return to Mexico to visit his family. But he uses his mother's mole recipe to feel close to his heritage and share the flavors of his home with new friends.

Photos by Hayley Fager.

When immigrants come to the United States, they often leave behind their family, friends and culture. One way newcomers connect back to their homeland is through food. An example of this is Luis Chavez, who moved to Chicago from Guanajuato, Mexico.

Luis describes himself as a hippie. He works at a local coffee shop as a barista. In his free time, he makes jewelry and also started an artist collective for people to come together to support each other’s work. The collective also creates mentorship programs for young kids in this historically Mexican immigrant neighborhood in Chicago.

As Luis continues to settle into his new life in America, food is one of the ways he connects with his family, particularly his mother. He’s made groups of friends, fellow immigrants, who routinely get together for food and celebrations. At dinners like those, he breaks out his mother’s molé recipe to share with his companions.

The recipe Luis uses has been adapted from his grandmother’s original version. His grandmother is from Zacatecas in North Central Mexico, and his mom grew up just south of there in Jalisco. Each region has its own style of molé, but Luis’s brings the ingredients of all three places together with roasted nuts and fried onions, tomatoes and french bread.

Try this recipe at home!