Oct 17, 2019

Olé Mole

Photo by Mclatchy Tribune
Student searches for the best mole sauce out of seven samples

Preliminary tests conducted on campus by Fresno State student Mao Xiong today are the first in an effort to find “the best” of seven Mexican mole (pronounced “mo-lay”) sauces to sell at the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market.

A group of 15 volunteers, male and female between the ages of 18 and 60, will spend approximately 30 minutes sampling, ranking and giving feedback on the sampled sauces. Participants have been asked to refrain from eating or drinking two hours before the sampling.

Xiong said participants sample seven mole sauces and rank them from one to seven, one being the lowest or least favorite. Water and crackers provided are to assist in a clean palate before each sample.

“Some moles are spicier than others,” Xiong said.

Mole is a sauce made of chilies, cinnamon, chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, onion and/or nuts and seeds. “Ten families preparing the same mole sauce, they would all taste different across the board,” Xiong said. She said some mole sauces are even made with fruit.

Xiong said mole sauce can be served on any kind of meat. Here in the U.S. it is commonly eaten on enchiladas.

Xiong said she is excited because, “this is the first test.” She said the tests were supposed to start a year ago and it is now just taking off.

Photo by Mclatchy Tribune

“What we want to know out of the seven is the top four or top three,” Xiong said. “I’m thankful that we have volunteers.”

A tasty thesis

Xiong is executing the project for her thesis, which will help her to complete her master’s degree in product development. She gives credit for the idea to her professor, Dr. Dennis Ferris.

Her first goal was reproducing the sauces, which meant finding the ingredients. Making mole is very time consuming. Xiong would know: she made all seven sauces herself. “Traditionally it is served for weddings and funerals. It’s not something that is easily made,” she said.

While making the sauces one day on campus, “I forgot to ventilate the kitchen when I was toasting the chilies,” Xiong recalls. “I could hear lots of coughing from the room next door.”

For Xiong, this is a foot in the door for product development. These tests allow her to play with the ingredients and explore their popularity in a test market.

The Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market already offers jams, jellies and a BBQ mole sauce along with their dairy, meat and seasonal products. Typical shoppers are older females, commented Xiong. “It’s too far from the campus,” Xiong said in regards to the lack of student shoppers.

The volunteer group will be tested on campus in the Family Food Science Building, room 105, from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. today.

Xiong said she hopes to have the winning mole sauce for sale in the market by fall 2009.

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