January 19, 2005

what to eat, #1

Have I mentioned that avocadoes are in season? Here's what I've been doing with them:

1 ripe avocado1
half a lime
a very small handful of cilantro

Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl large enough to hold it and let you stir things too. Mash the avocado up with a spoon or a fork until it's a good texture - a few small chunks, but mostly blended up. You can put the lime juice in right away, to keep the avocado from discoloring and to give you a little liquid to help with the mashing. Don't squeeze the lime all the way out, though. Add less than you think you need, taste, add more. Add the salt: put too little in, then taste it. I find that it takes a generous pinch, but you can always add more; and we might pinch differently. When the salt and lime and avocado are all well balanced, chop the cilantro up as fine as you can get it and stir it in. Eat it with a spoon.

People do all sorts of things with guacamole, but I think this is the best. It's simple and fast, and you can really taste the best parts of the guacamole. Tomatoes and garlic are fine, but who really cares? You're there for the avocado, and maybe the cilantro; the lime and salt just bring out the other flavors. Sometimes I add a little very finely chopped fresh hot pepper. My mom uses brined hot peppers, which disperses the heat more and also adds some salt and a different kind of sourness (from vinegar, instead of lime). I think the biggest advantage of hot pepper is that it balances the guacamole really perfectly without overwhelming any other flavor: round avocado taste v. sharp lime and cool cilantro v. hot pepper. The major disadvantage is that it's very difficult to get the heat dispersed effectively. Using a coffee or spice grinder, a mortar and pestle, or a blender might help.

1. Hass avocadoes - the most common variety in the US - turn black when they're ripe, and get tender. You can buy them firm, and let them soften into ripeness on your counter. If you can get to the Monterey Market in Berkeley, you should. The avocadoes have been perfect.

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