Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Guacamole the Way God Intended It

Maybe I should say "the way the Gods intended it", since guacamole is from the pre-colonial Aztecs in central Mexico. The name "guacamole" is the Spanish rendering of the Nahuatl (one of many languages I, sadly, do not speak) word "ahuacamolli", meaning sauce (molli, or now "mole", as in "Mole Poblano") of avocado (ahuacatl, or now "aguacate"). Before Columbus, guacamole was apparently a sauce of avocado, tomato, and salt mashed together in a shallow stone mortar ("molcajete"), which is still used for making and serving Mexican salsas, including guacamole.

The way I make the sauce I learned from the wonderful old family-run restaurant in what used to be the refectory, or dining room, of a former convent (that's how I get away with my title) in Santa Fe (meaning "holy faith"), New Mexico. It was the best guacamole I ever tasted, and when I convinced someone there to tell me how it was made, I was stunned by the simplicity. Their, and now my, recipe replaces the New World tomato by the Old World garlic. The method is otherwise nearly the same as 500 years ago.

There are many variations to guacamole, and some of them are tasty. People put in such things as tomato (which is in fact historic) but also onion, ground coriander, cumin (which I dislike in the sauce), chilies, cilantro and lime or lemon juice in addition to the avocado, garlic and salt. And some people purée the sauce, which I do not care for. I prefer the rich intensity of freshly mashed avocado enhanced only by garlic and salt. Lime (or lemon) juice will keep the sauce from darkening if it has to sit for a long time, so for a buffet or catering I do add a little of that, but I prefer limes squeezed fresh onto something else in the meal or in my drink. The type of avocado is critical. The rich buttery Hass avocado from southern California and from Mexico is far superior for guacamole to the watery type of avocado from Florida.

Guacamole Tim

1 medium-sized clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
4 medium-sized ripe Hass avocados

Crush the garlic, peeled, in the salt, pressing with the back of a spoon in the mixing bowl to a smooth paste (or put the garlic through a press). Add the peeled and pitted avocados, and mash them well with a fork, leaving the mixture slightly lumpy.

Mix well, and taste for salt. Serve soon.

If the guacamole needs to be held for half an hour or more before eating, stir in 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice, and recheck the salt.


Blogger Linda Symonds said...

I love the guacamole history lesson. It was very intersting learning about the language.

I love guacamole in all it's forms (well...except the mashed potato kind). Thanks for the great info!

Cook Mexican Food Recipes

1:45 PM  
Blogger Tim Dondero said...

Thanks for the comment, Linda. You've got to be kidding about mashed potato guacamole! But actually there is a mashed potato sauce with lots of garlic and olive oil, Scordalia, in Greek cooking, which can be used a little like guacamole. But there's no avocado in it. Tim

7:51 AM  

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