Lucky Comestible III: The Perfect Guacamole

June 17, 2008


[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]


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“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

Some foods are just acquired tastes–sort of like scat, living in the suburbs, or Quentin Tarantino films.  I know that avocados work that way for many people, but that wasn’t my experience.  Like eggnog or chocolate, avocado was one food I knew intuitively that I’d like, even before that first buttery, golden slice ever slid across my tongue. 

In my teens, I used to walk to high school each day with my friend Phil.  We’d meet at her place (about halfway between my house and our school) where she’d usually invite me in for a breakfast bite. It was in her mother’s white and gold formica-clad kitchen that we learned to love coffee together (stage one:  1/2 cup coffee, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup cream and 5 sugars.  Stage two: 4/5 cup coffee, 1/5 cup cream, 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stage three: eliminate sugar.  Stage four: Congratulations; you’re hooked for the next 30 years, until that ulcer/heart condition/high blood pressure diagnosis, and then you go back to “no coffee”.)

While at Phil’s place after  school one day, her mother (who was born in Belgium, and was therefore very glamorous) introduced me to avocados.  The rough, gravelly exterior, greenish black skin and ovoid shape all seemed very exotic to this apple-and-banana gal.  But as soon as she cut the fruit open, removed the glossy pit, and proffered a halfmoon slice, I was forever hooked on the smooth, velvety texture and slightly nutty, slighty sweet flavor. 

(Apart from foodstuffs, Phil and I also learned to smoke cigarettes together, two giggly fifteen year-olds strolling round deserted parks after dinner, attempting to inhale, and–between fits of sputtering coughs–singing, “They. . . asked me how I knew. . . my true love was truuuuuue.  .  .”  But that’s another story).

To me, avocados are a nearly perfect food.  Technically a fruit (sometimes called the “alligator pear”), they are used more often as a vegetable, and almost always raw.  A few years ago, though, I read a magazine article about authentic Mexican cuisine. I found out that, in addition to being tossed into pretty much every salad or salsa, the avocado is also used sometimes in that country in cold soups and even cakes.  Wow, I thought, what a great ideaWith the extra healthy fats (and monounsaturates can stand up to low heat pretty well) as well as the fiber, avocados would make a terrific egg substitute in baking! 

So I started playing and came up with a few baked goods (and I promise to share later in the series) as well as a cold soup–perfect for summer (recipe to follow as well). If you feel like playing with avocado as an egg substitute, use it the way you would tofu (1/4 cup avocado purée = 1 egg).  Or simply add about 2 tablespoons puréed avocado to any baked good for added moistness. 

Whether your preference is the crinkly Haas or the smooth-skinned Fuerte variety, an avocado is ripe when it “gives” slightly to soft pressure with your thumb or finger (be sure to press at the top of the fruit to avoid bruising the flesh). Most avocados are sold before they’re ripe and require 2-5 days at room temperature before they’re ready to eat. 

Once ripe, however, they don’t last long–a day or two at most–before they reach the overripe, slightly fermented, stage (you know an avocado is past its prime if it starts to smell a bit like wine).  If you can’t consume them once ripe, they’ll keep another 2-3 days, unpeeled, in the refrigerator.  When I find myself with an overabundance of ripe avocadoes, I simply peel, purée, and freeze in one-cup containers for later use (frozen pulp is perfect for future dips and spreads, those baking experiments, or even added to pasta sauces later on).  Frozen avocado should keep up to five months.

Avocados are also incredibly healthful–they aren’t a staple of Mexican cuisine for nothing!  Brimming with heart-healthy monounsaturated oils, they are a good source of fiber, potassium (great to counteract high blood pressure) and vitamin K, essential for blood and (of particular interest to those of us with osteopenia) bone strength.  They also contain a good dose of lutein, an antioxidant found mostly in green leafy vegetables that’s been shown to contribute to eye health and even help reduce the effects of macular degeneration (a disease of the eyes in which central vision is slowly erased).

And today’s recipe?  Well, guacamole is one of those iconic foods that regularly makes an appearance at end-of-semester pub bashes, summer Bar B Qs, surprise birthday parties, or work pot lucks; I simply couldn’t do a series on avocados without including this classsic dip.

The first time I tried guacamole, I was at an end-of-semester party thrown by my friend Carol, a legendary hostess known for her ability to draw crowds of disparate personalities who, for the course of an evening (and often into the wee hours of the morning), all got along over beer, wine, and literary discourse.

Carol and her husband always included their two children (then aged 9 and 11) in every social activity, so the kids would meander quite comfortably among the professors and graduate students, stopping every now and again to chat with the bearded hippie sucking back a Becks or the the raven haired T.A. in the inappropriate tank top who was hitting on our Drama professor.  Completely unfazed, the children might stop for some corn chips and guacamole, then move on. Around 10:30 or 11:00, they’d wander upstairs to their bedrooms, where they’d doze entirely undisturbed by the din beneath them, like babies in the neonatal ward who can all sleep through their own wailing.

Carol’s guacamole that night was spectacular, and I knew I’d have to make it again.  I clipped this recipe from an old Chatelaine magazine from the 1990s, and I’ve never even tried another since.  I do realize that everyone and their hairstylist has a fabulous recipe for guacamole, but this really is the best one I’ve ever tasted.  The unusual step of rinsing the onion (which removes any pungency that might linger on the palate hours later), elevates this version to one of the all-time best recipes I’ve ever made. 

With its prominent use of cilantro, this is a great entry to Kalyn‘s Weekend Herb Blogging event, this week hosted by Joanna at Joanna’s Food.

Oh, and there’s still time to enter the contest for a new cookbook–which might just contain a new recipe for guacamole!

The Perfect Guacamole


I used to think that guacamole required garlic to taste this delicious, but this recipe proved me wrong.  The contrast between the chunky tomato and smooth, rich avocado is stellar.  Add more cilantro if you’re a fan.



17 Responses to “Lucky Comestible III: The Perfect Guacamole”

  1. VeggieGirl Says:

    Oooh, focus on avocados more often – I LOOOOVE them!! :0D

  2. Romina Says:

    I could really go for some guacamole right now! My mom is addicted to this stuff, so if I can get over my fear of using avocados I’ll have to whip some of this up!

  3. shellyfish Says:

    I loved this story…memories…
    I love avacados, and when I lived near the Mexican boarder I ate them daily. I try to restrain and only eat them occasionally since they have to travel a million kilometres to get to me…but I miss them!

  4. Hippolyra Says:

    I am addicted to the stuff, I ran out of lemons the other day and made a very good cheat’s version using salad dressing!

  5. Ricki Says:

    I’m with you on this one–I could eat them daily (though try to control myself)!

    Fear of avocados? But what is there to be afraid of? Now you’ve got me curious. . .

    Avocados aren’t exactly native to Canada, either, but I just adore them nonetheless (and they are rather abundant in our stores at the moment). And you are just so worldy–is there anywhere you HAVEN’T lived?? (I’m totally envious. . . ).

    Sounds good to me! Basically, avocado with almost anything is pretty good 😉

  6. Lizzie Says:

    Uh oh — my mouth is watering again. I do love avocados and thanks for the tip about the onion! Next party/bbq/celebration, I will certainly be making this version.

    I have a cold avodaco soup recipe that I’m working on so I’m excited to see yours!

  7. HONI Says:

    Loved your memories.. not a huge avacado fan myself.. although the quacomole looks devine!

  8. veganhomemade Says:

    I have a ripe avocado at home waiting to be worked into dinner tonight! I don’t remember the first time I had guac, but the first time I bought an avocado to eat at home I didn’t realize it needed to be ripe. I somehow cut into it, diced it, added it to a taco salad and wondered why it tasted DISGUSTING! What a naive girl I was.

  9. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for the information on freezing avocados. So many years in Texas and I never knew that. Or that they are sometimes called alligator pears. I love that! Thanks.

  10. Katy Says:

    I love avocados too. That quacamole looks wonderful. I can’t wait to try it!

  11. Ricki Says:

    How funny about the soup! Will look forward to your version as well–never too much avocado!

    If you haven’t ever tried it, this might just do the trick for you. Or check out the next recipe! 😉

    Oh, no! Underripe avocs can be awful. Luckily you decided to try again and you now get to enjoy them in their full, ripe glory!

    I never knew, either, until I had sooo much leftover and just couldn’t bear to throw it away. Since then I’ve seen frozen guacamole sold in our local health food store, too!

    Let me know what you think if you give it a go! 🙂

  12. off to go make this guac! MM

  13. Johanna Says:

    I didn’t love avocados at first bite but now am hooked – they are manna from the gods so will look forward to this series – esp the baking with them which I have never done. I love the glorious green colour of them – always looks great (except when they discolour). I love my guacamole with garlic and am less of an onion person but I do like the idea of washing it to reduce the bite.

  14. atxvegn Says:

    This is very similar to my favorite guacamole recipe. Even here in Texas it gets done wrong. I agree that lots of cilantro and NO mayo or sour cream make it perfect!

  15. Kalyn Says:

    I like your avocado recipe, especially the extra cilantro. The only change I might make is to add a touch of chile powder, but maybe the jalapeno has taken it’s place!

    I have a brother who doesn’t like avocado, and I just don’t get it!

  16. Jude Says:

    Can’t beat a properly made bowl of guacamole for little get togethers.. Perfect party food 🙂

  17. […] Vegan Perfect Guac with crackers, tomatoes and red pepper […]

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