My Molcajete

I’ve been in a quandary these past few weeks. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that the recent acquisition of a rather exquisite habanero-mango salsa got me all fired up to start experimenting making salsas on my own.

But to do so it seemed I’d have to purchase a blender. The thought was off-putting to someone whose largest kitchen utensil remains a modest sized butcher knife. And this rather unsightly electric kitchen appliance would also take up space not to mention require me breaking it down after every use to clean all of its myriad little parts.

My friend, Pancho suggested an alternative. A molcajete.


To be honest, I’d seen them but I was never really interested in them. At first glance they appear to be molded out of some course value of concrete. And in the markets and stalls they all look dusty and dirty in those rather unappealing industrial shades of gray.

But I knew I certainly didn’t want some big assed ugly blender so I started looking around and found a molcajete that I liked and had the sense to ask someone in the Mercado how to prep the thing (as in clean it) before I first used it.

And curiously enough I asked the right person who told me to let it sit overnight filled with rice and water, then to use the tejolote (the pestle) the next day to mash it all together thereby cleaning it; grinding all the loose fragments of basalt rock away to leave a more smooth surface.

Come to find out, both the molcajete and the tejolote are carved – according to wiki -from single pieces of vesicular basalt rock. That I liked very much (I like natural materials). And again, according to wiki, the molcajete has been in use for something like several thousand years. Good. The device had been strenuously time tested. I liked that too.

So yesterday I made my first run at a habanero-mango salsa. I munged 2 mangos together with an equal number of fresh garlic cloves and 3 large orange habaneros. After working it for just a minute or two it all reduced down nicely into a velvety orange goop.

It was tasty but not nearly as good as the batch I bought from that lady over in Jiquilpan. I’ll keep experimenting. But as a final note, the molcajete – compared to the blender – was hands down the best decision. Functionally (set up, use, cleaning) it was a better choice. And it turns out once they are cleaned up, they are quite attractive in primitive pre-Hispanic art sort of way.

PS – I am rereading Henry Miller’s profane masterpiece ‘Tropic of Cancer’ for something like the third time and this morning in the rooftop hammock I came upon some of his deft and highly imaginative wordsmithing:

“The beautiful American woman is inquiring about the toilet. The toilet! Let me show you, you velvet-snooted gazelle! The toilet, you say?”

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I’d give almost anything to be able to conjure up such original phrases like velvet-snooted gazelle. And the entire book is one big mess of wonderful writing.

I remember from a past reading (I haven’t got to it yet during this read) where he goes over to some woman’s apartment (this is Paris in the ’30s), throws her a good fuck, eats her food, then leaves a drain defying dump in her commode before scarpering off into the night without so much as a sorry, thanks, or a goodbye.

That kind of literary misbehavior is perhaps only matched by the misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield in J.P. Donleavy’s hysterically funny, ‘The Ginger Man’ (1955).

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