Mole, Arroz y Tortillas (To Eat or Not to Eat?)

By Rich Lopez
Visit his blog on The Daily Camera

February 14, 2010: “You are what you eat.” Many of us have heard this expression and it is true in Boulder and in Mante. That is why Elizabeth, a dietician, is an important resource at the Clinic. During intake, we hear similar stories about intestinal problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many of these ailments can be controlled by diet. This year Elizabeth has many props to help deliver her messages. Test tubes are filled with sugar that represents the amount of sugar in a Coke. Other test tubes illustrate the amount of lard contained in corn tortillas. These graphic illustrations are effective as you see the patients’ eyes widen in surprise. Tortillas are eaten with most meals and the challenge is to encourage patieints to reduce their intake from 6 per meal to 2.


Sunday at the Clinic sees lower volumes of patients. This is expected, but it gave us a chance to enjoy a Sunday afternoon meal with Petra, a Mante teacher who spent one year teaching science at Angeline Middle School in Lafayette. When we arrive at Petra’s we learn that she lives in a small family compound with three houses, all occupied by family members. In the center of the compound is a large shaded patio with comfortable chairs. This makes sense because Mante’s summer are extremely hot and humid. (There is a local joke that “when a person from Mante dies and goes to Hell, they ask the Devil for a blanket.”)

There is an outdoor kitchen and nearby is a large ceramic bowl of “chicken mole” simmering over an open fire. Soon, nieces, nephews, in-laws and grandchildren arrive and before long, there are 25 people representing four generations. This is a Mexican style nuclear family. After everyone is settled down “almuerzo” begins. Mole, rice and conversation. Petra’s family includes educators, a med student, TV/video producer and other professionals. Her mother is the matriarch and all activities seem to be coordinated around her. It’s very comforting to be there with her family. PS, I only ate two tortillas.


Leave a Reply