What I learned from a bowl of posole

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readNov 13, 2021
Not much in life is better than a bowl of posole.

I felt like making posole this week. So I did. Hot weather or cold, I’m a sucker for caldos of all kinds. I like the watery ones where you have trouble catching the pasta and I like the chunky ones where it’s hard to get one of every ingredient in each spoonful.

Unlike most other caldos, there is something about posole that puts me in a different place. Each time I make it, I think of my ancestors who would serve the dish during holidays and other special celebrations. I think of how much time in a day a mom would spend just to get what was needed together to make this heartwarming meal.

Walks to the local market or farm. Deseeding chile pods. The grinding of fresh herbs in the molcajete. Chopping, dicing, and pulling. Scooping, serving, and eating. For the middle-aged mama and tia, this was only half the day. The rest of it was spent sweeping, folding, and hanging.

Today you could buy ready-to-eat posole in a can. It brings us convenience but all the rest is lost. The important values that aren’t measurable by the cost savings, often only realized by the passing of time.

We lose moms teaching us how fresh cilantro can be used in different dishes and why it is so well loved by the Mexicano. We lose being a good helper when someone asks us to help pick up the bandeja full of raw hominy. We lose seeing someone we love doing something she loves without complaint no matter how long or how hard the work may be.

For all the good that comes with the quick and easy, also comes the loss of doing things that may be a little harder but a lot more satisfying. Making posole is one of them.

When you think about it, the long-term benefits of cooking a traditional meal together come to us precisely for the reasons we are trying to avoid doing it. The stories that you hear the cooks telling each other. They cover the gamut from what is happening back home, to laughing about childhood memories, and the desire for things to be like they used to be.

All this is heard and shared over the stirring of a large pot of posole on a gas stove. You also get aromas stuck in your brain that you will never forget. They remind…

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.