Puebla, is one of Mexico’s oldest and most famous cities, is the fourth largest in the country.
Puebla’s culinary tradition, known as Cocina Poblana, is popular throughout Mexico. A distinctive feature of the region’s cooking is mole, a rich, spicy sauce containing chocolate, cinnamon and nuts as well as different types of hot peppers. Served with chicken, mole is the most renowned of Puebla’s dishes.
There are two stories about how mole sauce came to be:
One story is that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-columbian mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion
The other story is that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients. This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.
Modern mole is a mixture of ingredients from North America, Europe and Africa, making it the first international dish created in the Americas.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, one of the world’s largest pyramids, is located in Puebla. It was built by the Aztecs to honor the god of rain.
The Cinco de Mayo is a famous holiday, but not too many people know it took place in Puebla. In 1862, France invaded Mexico, planning to make it part of the French Empire. Outnumbered Mexican forces met the French at Puebla and managed to defeat the overconfident French army. The victory was short-lived, however, since the French subsequently conquered Mexico, remaining in power until 1867. Even so, the victory at Puebla is widely remembered and enthusiastically celebrated each year in the state.