Mole is a Mexican traditional food that is served to celebrate the Day of the Dead, Saint Patron Celebrations, weddings, baptism,s and other major festivities. For Oaxacans, mole is the main dish that identifies them. Mole is so popular in Oaxaca that this Mexican state is called “land of the 7 moles.” Preparing this traditional dish is a ritual, all ingredients must be carefully selected, roasted, and ground. It is also difficult to know what the right amounts of each ingredient are, since adding or reducing the condiments affects how it taste.
Guadalupe Herrera is a native of the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico. She learned how to prepare mole and began her training as a molera (person who prepares mole for public functions) since she got married as an adolescent in Concepcion Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca. Currently, she lives lives in Madera, California, a place where numerous Oaxacan immigrants reside. Guadalupe is one of the few persons who knows how to prepare traditional molefrom scratch, so she cooks mole for baptisms and other family reunions, not only for her own family but also for people who are eager to eat this traditional food.
Guadalupe was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2012, with her daughter and apprentice Onelva Herrera. During their apprenticeship, Guadalupe helped Onelva, who has been learning from her for several years, to master preparing mole from scratch. The goal was for Onelva to become a molera herself, recognized by her community as someone able to prepare mole.