Good Eats 2011
Food for Thought

Holy Guacamole! America's love affair with the avocado makes green cool

Holy Guacamole! America's love affair with the avocado makes green cool

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One of our favorite Tex-Mex eateries, Maria Selma Photo via Maria Selma/Facebook
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And this time of year, during football season, guacamole is more popular than ever at tailgates and watch parties. Come Super Bowl time, Americans are expected to consume more than 80 million pounds of avocados. Now that’s a lot of guac. Photo via Photos8.com
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It’s funny the way some people have food phobias. For me, it’s anything squishy (octopus) or stringy (cheese in that in-between state). It’s really more about texture than taste.

But for Dad, it’s generally about color. Oddly, he’ll eat salads and loves green beans, not the French ones I like to sauté with sliced shallots, but the big thick ones cooked with bacon and lard. But he’s not a fan of Brussels sprouts or broccoli.

Or guacamole.

At our favorite Tex-Mex eatery the other day (Maria Selma, which he calls Orange because of the color of the building and the name of the sports bar next door) we ordered chicken nachos. Now these nachos are delicious, but not like others in town. They’re drenched in chile con queso and liberally covered with diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos and cooked chicken. But no sour cream or guacamole.

Guacamole is more popular than ever at tailgates and watch parties. Come Super Bowl time, Americans are expected to consume more than 80 million pounds of avocados. 

So I ordered some guac on the side.

“On the side, in a separate bowl,” Dad said to the waiter.

“Yes, I think he heard that the first time.” God forbid the green stuff should actually touch any of his nachos.

When it came it was a lovely, chunky, bowl of green goodness. I tried to get him to try some, but noooooo.

He just doesn’t like the look of it.

I guess maybe he’s not alone, but today Americans love the avocado and the Mexican dip made from it. And this time of the year, during football season, guacamole is more popular than ever at tailgates and watch parties. Come Super Bowl time, Americans are expected to consume more than 80 million pounds of avocados.

Now that’s a lot of guac.

A Tree of Green Knowledge

So let’s take a look at this South of the border dip. First off, avocados are fruits. They grow on trees, mostly in California, Chile, Mexico and Guatemala. But you can grow them in South Texas and the Texas A&M extension system even has tips for growing your own avocado tree. How cool would that be — to have your own backyard tree to pluck the green goodies from come time to make the guac?

And, they are very healthy little fruits. According to the California Avocado Commission, avocados “provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid” and they act as a nutrient booster enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with avocados. They’re also high in the so-called good fats that are good for your heart.

 The beauty of guacamole is that you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. It’s a real kitchen sink kind of dish.  

It was probably the Aztecs who first thought of smashing some avocados and spicing the mix up a bit, but as far back as the 1940s, American were eating the dip with relish . . . er . . . with cilantro and jalapenos at any rate.

The great thing about guacamole is that it is so easy to make. Make whatever amount you want (Guac for one? No problem) and you can pretty much put whatever you want into it.

Some like it creamy, which is good for spreading it on a sandwich, but I like mine chunky. Which is why I always mash the avocados with a fork. As for additions, diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro are pretty standard but my go-to add-in is garlic. Yup, I take a fresh garlic clove and scrape it over a microplane.

I also add lime juice instead of lemon, although either one will help keep the dip from turning brown. I also like Serrano chiles instead of jalapenos and, unlike some, I always add a pinch of sea salt. Or maybe two.

But the beauty of guacamole is that you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. It’s a real kitchen sink kind of dish. Surfing the net you’ll find recipes for guac with citrus, onions, lobster, toasted pumpkin seeds, black olives, sour cream, mayonnaise (what the …?) and even this recipe from Lopez Southwestern Food Kitchen (in Ohio of all places for heavens sake) featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate that adds sage, bleu cheese and bacon to the smashed avocadoes.

I am so going to try that next time because we all know there’s nothing that can’t be improved by adding bacon.

In fact, if I put enough bacon into it maybe I can get Dad to try it.

What’s your favorite guacamole recipe?