The first bite is smoky. Only afterwards do I feel the tingling of spice on the tip of my tongue. This is chicken mole. I needed to cook tonight – a’ la Like Water for Chocolate. I wanted to blend all of my emotions, all of my passion, into my cooking; take it out of my bones and into the food. The house is hot tonight and the kitchen even hotter. The doors are open for a cross breeze and Sia is grooving on the CD player, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. The air fills with the earthy musky scent of cumin as I grind the seeds in the mortar and pestle. The chicken pieces and slivered onions fry in hot oil over the stove. I finely chop smoky chipotles in adobo, trying to carefully remove the seeds –the keepers of the most heat. I chop unsweetened chocolate – unrecognizable in the final dish, but adding to the layers of earthiness – not sweetness. This time, I’m not rushing around the kitchen. I tell myself to work slowly – to enjoy the process. I’m not worried about the result. I’m on no one’s schedule but my own. While the mole simmers, bubbling on the stove, I cook white basmati rice to capture the sauce. I also assemble an easy salad of succulent juicy mango and creamy avocado with a sprinkle of limejuice and zest. It cools my tongue when the mole gets too spicy. The flavors blend together nicely and satisfy me – for tonight.