Not what you find in the supermarket

Guacamole (hwaca-MO-le) is a nutritious vegetarian Mexican salad or relish with many variations. The version described here is a finely-chopped mixture in which the individual ingredients can be discerned, not a green paste. Some green pastes are quite good; others, (like an English concoction made from mushy peas) are less pleasing. Everything in guacamole is healthy and good for you, and you can eat as much as you want. The word guaca comes from the Quechua for a sacred idol, and is used for a hidden treasure.

Avocados (an English word; the Spanish is aguacate) are expensive in the U.S. because they are protected from competition with the better Mexican and Chilean fruit. How this is arranged, I do not know, but the prices make guacamole not the "poor man's butter" as it was once known. Select Hass avocados, the ones with rough skin, and smaller ones rather than the large ones that some supermarket employee has probably dropped on the floor and bruised. They should be dark, nearly black, and give slightly when pressed. It takes experience to recognize an avocado at the proper stage of ripeness. They are best bought green and ripened safely on your windowsill. They are as fragile as eggs.

Prepare the avocado by slicing in half, then embedding the edge of the knife in the pit, which can then be extracted. Cut each half in half again, and peel away the skin, which should come off readily. Mince the avocado in pieces no larger than 1/8" (3 mm) on a side, and put them in a bowl. Moisten the avocado with vinegar or lemon juice to add tartness and protect the fruit from oxidation.

Take canned, peeled green chiles (if you do not make your own), split them and remove the seeds, and then mince finely, and add to the avocado. Slice the tops off of Roma tomatoes, cut in half, remove the core and seeds, and mince the flesh. Add to the avocado and chiles and mix. About equal amounts of avocado, chile and tomato pleases me, but vary the proportions to suit your taste. You cannot have too much avocado. Some chopped cilantro is a nice addition, if you like cilantro, and you should. Also, finely chopped green onions are nice. Season with a little salt, to taste.

You now have guacamole. It has a smooth, slightly acid taste. If you would like it más picante, add finely chopped jalapeños en escabeche, which are easily available canned, and are quite excellent. Alternatively, ground chipotle pepper will also add spiciness. It is good simply eaten with tostadas (tortilla chips), or accompanying cooked chicken.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 27 June 2002
Last revised