A 500-Year-Old Favorite

Story by Jordan Mandela

I am of mixed ethnicity, 50% of which is Mexican. However, I did not grow up in Mexican/Mexican-American culture. As a result, I have sought out ways in adulthood of making connections to that heritage. Food and music are two of the strongest points of contact that I have, with visual art coming in close behind (shout out to the National Museum of Mexican Art, one of my favorite places in the city). Although Mexican cuisine can sometimes be very complex and labor-intensive to prepare — mole, I’m looking at you — I’d like to share my very easy, never-fails recipe for the best guacamole you’ll ever have.

Guacamole, it turns out, was first made by the Aztecs, with records showing that it is at least a 500-year-old dish. It was originally made with only avocado. Of course, its popularity has spread like wildfire, and it has taken on additional ingredients as time has gone on.

I made the following guacamole for my wife very early in our relationship, and she loved it so much that she married me (she claims there were other factors involved in that decision, but I still think it was the guac). A note: I never ever use tomatoes or sour cream in guacamole. I’ll keep it simple and say that if you try this recipe, I think you’ll understand why.

Guacamole

3 large ripe Haas avocados,* halved, peeled and pitted
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
Half of a medium red onion, diced small
1 jalapeño pepper, diced small (remove ribs and seeds if less heat is desired)
1/4c – 1/3c cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 – 2 limes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt, plus more to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl or molcajete if you have one. Using the tines of a large fork (think salad serving fork), pestle, or other coarse tool, mash the smaller ingredients into the avocado halves. Do not overwork — stop when you still have medium (dime-to-nickel-sized) chunks of avocado, and gently fold to fully incorporate any lime juice or other ingredients that might still be separated.

Taste. If needed, fold in additional garlic, onion, and/or lime juice. This will always depend on the intensity of the specific ingredients you have on hand, so trust your palate. Adjust salt to your preference (I almost always end up adding a little more at this step).

Serve with chips, use in tacos, or just sneak spoonfuls when no one is looking until it’s all gone and then blame the dog!

*If you aren’t practiced at selecting avocados, it is a bit of an art form. Look for the ones that are beginning to darken and have a moderately textured skin. Give the avocado a gentle press with your thumb. You want it to have just a bit of give and feel soft, but if it feels mushy, that means it’s overripe. Once you’ve picked the perfect avocados, use them right away. This is one of those fruits that is infamous for having a very narrow window of ideal ripeness.

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