Guacamole, guacamole, guacamole

Los Angeles is preparing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a big festival on Sunday.  But no doubt there will be plenty of home parties.  So sharpen your knives, find those perfectly ripe avocados and get ready to whip up a batch of guacamole.

Guacamole is akin to chicken soup and spaghetti sauce – we all have our favorite way of making it. 

We can thank the Aztecs for what has become a staple party food in American households.  They called it ahuaca-mulli, translated as avocado mixture.  Avocados held a special place in the Aztec culinary scene.  It provided a needed source of fat in the Aztecs’ normally low-fat diet and they considered it an aphrodisiac.   

While most Americans use tortilla chips to scoop up dollops of guacamole, it can be used in a variety of ways, almost like a chutney or condiment for meat, in tacos or burritos

The key to great guacamole obviously starts with the avocado, or aguacate in Spanish.  Hass avocados, which have a rough skin and turn an eggplant color when ripe, are the most flavorful and buttery of all varieties of avocados.  They are also the most common.  image

It’s tough to find perfectly ripe avocados in the store.  If you can think ahead, purchase them while still unripe a few days ahead of time and let them ripen at home.  Your window of opportunity is a few days: cut it open too early and they won’t have the full flavor and will be slightly hard.  Wait too long and the fruit inside will start to turn black and turn a sour taste.

Cutting an avocado is such an art that there is even a website devoted to it.  Visit How to cut an avocado to see how it’s done.

There are different preferences for the consistency of guacamole; some like it chunky, some like it almost completely pureed.  I like to mash it with a fork so that it is somewhat consistent, but not too chunky or smooth.

imageThe traditional recipe for guacamole is as follows:

2 ripe avocados, mashed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1-2 Tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped and seeded Serrano chili (or more to taste)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Sea salt, to taste

Some people add lemon or lime juice, salsa or garlic.  It’s all good in my book, but for me, I prefer the guacamole I learned to make while studying in Guatemala. 

My guacamole has the mashed avocados, diced tomatoes and finely chopped onions.  But the only other ingredients are freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and sea salt to taste.

There are endless variations.  Add your recipe in the comment section below.  You can also get some guacamole recipes from these websites:

Guacamole Recipe
Simply Recipes
Food Network
All Recipes

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo and harmony between Latinos and African Americans