Smorgas (1858); Mole (1901); Batik (1857)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 24 02:04:03 UTC 2001

>    What does the revised OED have for the Mexican "mole"?
>by Mrs. Alec Tweedie
>Herst and Blackett Limited, London
>Pg. 247:
>    The more wary housekeeper takes her turkey into the patio, feeds
>it for a week, and only puts it into "mole," stew with chilli, when
>plump and fat.  It is interesting to note that the turkey is
>indigenous to Mexico.

The on-line version has this:
mole, sb.8 [Mexican Sp., ad. Nahuatl mulli, molli sauce, stew.
] A highly spiced sauce made chiefly from chilli and chocolate and
with various meats.

1932 H. W. Bentley Dict. Sp. Terms in Eng. 169 Mole.., a sauce used
in Mexican cookery in connection with the serving of meats.

1948 Sat. Even. Post 2 Oct. 52/3 Senora Gonzalez does her stuff on
such fabulous and sustaining dishes as chicken mole-boiled chicken
in a sauce of exotic Mexican spices, cinnamon, chili, mashed-up
peanuts and even a dash of chocolate [etc.].

1957 B. Buckingham Boiled Alive xviii. 121 Turkey swimming in mole, a
hot sauce made of chilli and chocolate, stuffed sweet peppers and
mounds of pink-brown beans.

1966 Punch 9 Mar. 364/2 We were..sated with rich turkey mole.
What surprises me is not the late attestation, which we've seen is a
general fact about these borrowed food terms, but the pronunciation.
Is it really pronounced by anyone as a homophone of "moley" (as in
"Holy ____"), and as rhyming with holy?  I've only ever heard it
pronounced MOW-lay, to rhyme with "NO lay" or "ROLAI[ds]".  This is
another one of those Nahuatl borrowings like "chile/chilli" discussed
a little while ago, but this time no one seems to use any of the
non-Spanish transliterations.  (Or is "molli" used sometimes, perhaps
to avoid the unwanted homographs of "mole"?  I've never seen it.)


P.S.  It's absolutely delicious, and although the packaged jars of
mole paste aren't at all the same, I'm very glad that our local
supermarkets have finally started carrying them so I don't have wait
until the LSA/ADS meets in California to replenish my stock.  (I know
it can be made at home, but there are about 18 ingredients so I think
I'll have to wait until retirement to try.)

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