Dips on Chips: Guacamole
June 15, 2010
A legitimate question: why have I never written about guacamole? Because seriously, I make great guac. I’m sitting at my desk right now, listening to sweet summer jams and munching on chips and guac. I know it’s a little early for lunch, but I’ve been up since seven working on a writing project and running errands, and I just couldn’t resist that plump little avocado nestled between the onions and garlic saying, Eat me, eat me, I’m so squishy and green!
My passion for guacamole emerged out of on incredibly uncomfortable social situation, which occurred a few summers ago when I was leading backpacking trips with Davidson College. At the end of each trip, the group would go to a Davidson employee’s house for dinner. I don’t even remember who the employee in question was – all I remember is that she was in her late forties and worked in some sort of office and that along with us, she had invited her daughters and her new boyfriend to the dinner as well. Her boyfriend, whose name was Jaun, was clearly at least ten years younger – they had met while Juan and company were renovating her office, or something like that. Her daughters clearly didn’t like Juan and kept rolling their eyes at each other every time their mother said something about him.
Which was often, since she only talked about Juan, clearly to mitigate her daughters’ disapproval. Juan didn’t say anything.
The dinner was something Mexican. Juan is a really good cook. [Insert history of Juan’s family.] Juan, Juan, Juan, Juan. [Daughters roll eyes. Backpacking participants smile awkwardly. Juan smiles awkwardly.] I made these enchiladas just like Juan’s mom used to make. [Shoveling food into mouth to keep from having to make a comment. Silence. Longer awkward silence. Eye rolls.]
Me: Um, this guacamole is really good?
The barrage begins again: Juan taught me how to make real guacamole. In Mexico, they just make it with avocado, salt, lime, and chile. That’s it. That’s real guacamole. That’s how Juan’s mom makes it.
And there it was: the magical formula. Somehow I clung to this through the rest of that awkward dinner. My recipe life raft. For a long time I was fanatic about using this guac recipe. I entertained arguments with proponents of other methods. One of these arguments even led to a guacamole competition, which turned into a guac and mojito party (more fun anyway…).
Why I chose to believe this was the definitive method, I have no idea, but I became a guacamole evangelist. I brought guacamole to everything and made it on every occasion. Before I graduated I was approached by not a few people asking me to share the secret of my amazing guacamole. And I took on disciples to carry the torch of guacamole purity.
But the secret, I think, is not so much just using these ingredients, but picking the very best avocado. I will not make guacamole until my avocado is just right and I only make guac with the small Hass avocados that squash submissively in my fingers. The other secret is: you have to mash avocados with your hands.
I’m less of a fanatic now and admit that there are lots of ways to squeeze greatness from an avocado. But sometimes, when there’s just too much going on in my life and my clouded head needs a little metaphysical Windex, I look to my first guacamole love: avocado, salt, lime, and chile. And that’s all.
This is the variation I’m presently eating.
Juice of 1 lime
1 serrano or habanero, finely chopped
1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
Handful of cilantro
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
Mash avocado with your hands until silky and soft. Add remaining ingredients, alternating adding salt and lime juice until the balance is just right. You may need more or less than the amounts suggested above.