Growing up in North Carolina in the 80’s and 90’s you didn’t see avocados in the grocery store. In fact, I don’t think I even tried avocado until I moved to Los Angeles in 2002. When I decided to go to graduate school at the University of Southern California, I vividly remember my Dad sitting me down and letting me know that things were going to be different. I tried to assure him that I could handle it. I had just lived 4 years in New York City, navigating Los Angeles should be a breeze. My Dad, determined to make his point, started to list all the ways West Coast people are different from East Coast people. On that list he included, “They put avocado on EVERYTHING!”
Today (and even when I was undergraduate at New York University), finding avocado in a North Carolina grocery store is a given and even my Dad enjoys all the wonderful ways you can use an avocado. And how could he not? They are delicious. He was also completely right about California. Avocado IS on everything! If you go to a restaurant you’ll find it on salads, sandwiches, on top of chicken…I’ve even seen avocado ice cream.
It is a staple of our diet nowadays. In fact, right now, while waiting to catch up on Orphan Black with Tina and working on this blog post, the channel was left on NBC’s Food Fighters. I swear celebrity chef Duff Goldman JUST said “Avocado is like butter that grows on trees.” Every time I use it, I pat myself on the back and think, “Congratulations, you’re using a good type of fat in this dish.” Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat and contain no cholesterol. Win-win!
One of my favorite ways to enjoy an avocado is in guacamole. Another perk of living in Los Angeles is all the amazing taco trucks and Mexican food restaurants that haven’t been overly Americanized. However, it wasn’t until I went to our friends’ house and had truly authentic guacamole that I was really hooked. Our friends, Patty and Josh, are always introducing us to delicious Mexican food (let your mouth start to water now for my future posts, including Tinga!) And if we’re really lucky, we’ll get an invitation from Patty’s mom, Estella, when she is visiting from Mexico. Then, we can really grub!
As with many things in life, simplicity is the key! The ingredient list is not extensive. It’s just fresh produce that compliment one another and the veggies get an opportunity to shine. It is worth noting how to pick a good avocado. While in the market pop off the stem. If it is hard to pop off, it is under ripe. If underneath you see bright green, it’s perfectly ripe. If it is dark brown it overly ripe. Pick good produce. It leads to delicious food.
If you can only find unripe avocados in the market, don’t worry. Buy them and ripen them quickly by putting them in a paper bag (by the way, this works wonders for peaches, too!). The paper bag traps in ethylene gas and this will ripen the avocado. If you want to do it in a days time, throw a banana in there too. Bananas produce more ethylene gas than other fruits and the more ethylene gas produced in the bag, the quicker everything will ripen.
Photo Credit: Pinki’s Palate
This guacamole is spicy due to the use of Serrano chili peppers. You can add more or less to adjust to your taste. I also recommend you add salt 1 teaspoon at a time. Depending on the size avocados you get you can easily use too much or too little salt. The limes add a great brightness and keep the guacamole from turning brown.
I remember Patty looking at me kind of strange when I asked for the recipe, I had just watched her make it. However, I’m Mama Nae’s blood. I need it written down with measurements. Ever since then this recipe gets pulled out for parties, football games, or a chill Sunday afternoon. The biggest compliment is when Patty or Estella or her sister Erika taste it and give me the thumbs up! My mom used to ask me to make it every summer when I came home. It really is delicious.
Football season is around the corner, so you’re going to want to perfect this one for yourself before this season’s kickoff!