El Guacamole De Mi Abuela

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Today, we are going to talk about one of my favorite dip, a recipe that went viral thanks to American Tex-Mex cuisine, the Guacamole!

So to make guacamole is super easy. You need an avocado, a pinch of salt and a lime juice. Mix everything together and here you go, you have a Guacamole!

That was a very short post I have to say.

Ok let me tell you a story first,

I have made guacamole for over 15 years. No matter where you live, you can find the basics for a good guacamole.

The place where I truly developed a “proficiency” in guacamole is Congo. As we all know, Congo is a small country of Central America where Guacamole was invented. Right?

Of course not. I am referring to this country in the middle of Africa that is home of the second biggest tropical forest in the world.

Living in Congo was definitely an interesting experience. Food-wise, I cannot say that I was amazed by the local cuisine which mostly relies on gibier (1) simmered for hours with onion, chili and chicken stock.

At this point, I am expecting a dozen of angry comments from gastronome enthusiasts based in Central Africa. So be it.

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Restaurant in Pointe-Noire Congo serving delicacy suck as Monkey, Porcupine, Turtle, Alligator and Wild Boar

Supply-wise, the choice was quite limited in Congo

Processed food was in little supply and extremely pricey. We faced frequent shortage of basic ingredients. Meat was mostly imported from South Africa or Tchad and overall expensive.

But when it comes to exotic fruits and vegetables, Congo was a real paradise. I enjoyed roaming the wet market, looking for the best organic delicacies.

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Fruit and Vegetable Market in Congo

Out of this abundance of greenery, one fruit and one vegetable really stand out by their quality: passion fruit and avocado. The very first is my favorite fruit in the world and the latter, a little treat that I like to eat fresh in salads or turn into a creamy guacamole.

In Congo, I bought avocados at the local market on a weekly basis and really fine-tuned my guacamole recipe.

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Amazing avocados from Congo, Central Africa

My kids, big fans of this green spread always asked me where I learned how to make guacamole. I always told them the same story.

“Kids, this recipe comes a long way in your family, I learned it the hard way from my abuela in Mexico.

Kids: But we know both your grandmas, and they live in France.

Me: Stay quiet and listen to me while I am still inspired.

I was only 12 year-old when my parents sent me to spend the summer with my abuelita Juanita. She was living in a small hamlet near Tancítaro, Michoacán state, Mexico.

My grandma’s house was located uphill at the end of a winding dusty road, with no running water or electricity.

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Random photo from Google to set the scene

She worked the land since her very young age, cultivating avocado trees for one of the local drug lords that use the avocado business as a shop front for a more fruitful (sic!) business.

She worked very hard and only during her old days was able to buy this small shed and the land that goes with it.

Juanita was very strict and a bit violent. I had to earn my food and bed every single day by helping her with all the chores.

The only times when I saw her smile was when she was cooking. She had a true passion for making food, and the result was always amazing.

The cornerstone of my grandma meal was her guacamole that we shared together on the porch at sundown.

My abuela’s ritual was always the same:

A bowl of freshly made guacamole, slices of lime, daily baked nachos and a shot of tequila.

While she savored the green delicacy, she told me everything about her past, the work on the field, her love stories and her passion for cooking.

That was the only time she was really relaxed, and kind to me. After a few shots of tequila, she called me by all sort of kind Spanish words that I still remember to this day: Cabrón, Maricón, Pendejo

One day, I asked her to teach me how to make guacamole. She looked at me surprised, a bit shocked and coldly shut me down.

I insisted so much that she finally gave up

I spent the rest of the summer practicing this simple but powerful recipe.

Have you noticed how simple meals are often the most difficult to master? Sunny-side up eggs? Medium-rare steak ? So simple but also so easy to mess-up.

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Avocado Tree

The next day, mi abuela asked me to hand-picked some fresh avocados from her garden. I went to the tree and selected two avocados. I brought them back and she shouted at me. These avocados are not right, she said.

How to choose a good avocado?

Looks at the avocados’ color.  Ripe avocados are usually a dark, almost black color with hints of green.

But visual is not enough. Squeeze the avocados.  Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should return to firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel excessively soft or mushy.

What if I messed up and bought an unripened avocado?

First, you get slapped by your abuela. Second, it is not too late, you can store it in a paper bag. To speed up the ripening process, add a banana or an apple to the bag.

After few days getting scolded, I finally got it and was capable of finding ripe avocados with my eyes closed.

Then, came the time for the recipe. My grandma peeled the avocado into a big mortier (2). She added a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper, the juice of one lime and a drop of Tabasco. She grabbed the pestle and start crushing the avocado. When the texture looks to her liking, she grabbed a quick bite and corrected the seasoning. She repeated the same process a few times until she found the good balance.

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Mortal and Pestle

The creamy paste was finally poured into a bowl, where she added chopped cilantro for the final touch.

The texture was perfect, not too creamy, not too chunky, just the good balance so it can melt in your mouth but it still gives you something to bite into. The savor was creamy, buttery, well countered by the lime acidity.

My misery did not come to an end till I mastered the steps to perfection.

Over time, I learned that there was not only one recipe of Guacamole but multiple variants depending on the mood of the day and of course what was available in the kitchen: green onion, jalapeños, chopped tomatoes…

Ok kids, that is the end of my story. Did you like it?

Kids: Nice fairy tale dad, so how did you really learn how to make guacamole?

Me: Google

Kids:

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For a decent bowl of guacamole, you need:

  • 2 avocados (ripe)
  • 1 or 2 lime depending how juicy they are
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Add-on:

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Chopped green onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Jalapeño (minced)
  • Tabasco
  • Garlic

If you do not have a mortar, you can use a fork or a mixer but do not tell my abuela.

And remember: the key to a good guacamole is seasoning. And you cannot master seasoning without tasting. So taste, over and over, till you reach perfection.

 Glossaire / Glossary:

(1) Gibier: Game

(2) Mortier: Mortar

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