Harper's Kitchen: Perfect Guacamole
Now, I know what you're saying. No guacamole could possibly be perfect.
Oh, but you see, that's where you'd be wrong. Now, casketgirl
could tell you that twenty years ago (Good lord, it was
twenty years ago, wasn't it?) I didn't like guacamole at all, because she made some for me and I was completely hating it. Let's just say my palate has since seen the light. But it was a long, hard journey.
You see, I decided after my guacamole experience (and I was all of nineteen at the time) that my problem with guacamole was probably that I didn't like avocados. Or maybe it was salsa. Or maybe tomatoes in general. But over the years, as you know, your tastes change. In university in Louisiana, I discovered that I had a taste for salsa, but only and particularly when it was really, really cold. And then I discovered the joys of tossing fresh chopped tomatoes with olive oil and garlic and a little basil to make fabulous checca,
which I didn't want to have to go to an Italian restaurant to get everytime I wanted some. So that was tomatoes taken care of, even fresh ones (at one time I thought I liked stewed but not fresh tomatoes since I enjoyed pasta sauces but not tomatoes on sandwiches or in salads). And then on one fateful day, probably sometime in 2000, arimathea
introduced me to sushi in that, "Just let me order something easy for you-- you'll like this, I promise," kind of way. And I discovered, to my surprise, through the mystical path of the California roll, that avocados are OMG yummy. But guacamole? "I don't like guacamole," I'd say, even though I had never tasted it except for that one time, back before I really cared for tomatoes or raw onions or any of those things that often go into guacamole.
And then one day it happened. I went next door for lunch. No, really. I was working at Nease's Needlework in Decatur, Georgia, and there is this little place that was next door to the location of the store at the time I worked there called Taqueria del Sol.
And they had the most amazing stuff. Fried chicken tacos. I am not making this up. Jalopeno mayonnaise. Oh, yes. Years before, while working with caobhan
, I'd decided I didn't like cilantro (what we think of over here as coriander), but the day that Susan, the owner of the shop, asked me to bring back some chips and guacamole for her to have with her salad for lunch, that all changed.
"Want some?" she asked, passing me a chip.
I'd only been working at the shop for a couple of days, and I didn't want Susan to think I was a wimp, so I said, "Sure, I'm not the biggest guacamole fan, but I'll take a little."
And that's how it starts, you see. Someone offers you a little taste of something like that, and then you find yourself, two weeks later, staring at an empty styrofoam container and wondering how you came to be sitting in the middle of the open-air back dining room at TdS with this margarita in your hand. Zowie.
And then I up and moved to England and there was no more Taqueria del Sol for me. And the only Mexican restaurant I have been to in this country was complete crap. So I hunted down some guacamole recipes, and they all call for lemon juice and salt and avocados-- and that's where the similarities end. I've been experimenting with variations for nearly two years now, and I am getting to be a pretty good guacamole maker. When sailing_harper
was here, I tried it with fresh tomatoes plus a little ground coriander, and that was nice, and she pronounced it Good.
But last night? Last night, ladies and gentlemen, I finally got it right. I took a bite, once I was finished with the squishing and mixing -- and if I closed my eyes, I could nearly hear carrielee
accusing me of being a guacamole addict, or 45andaclover
asking if I'd front her a buck so she could have some too. Because that was it.
That was exactly the guacamole I'd been searching for.
How do you do it?
Three avocados (Good ones, ripe ones. These were Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Ripe and Ready Avocados.)
A handful of reasonably well chopped onions. Well, two handfuls.
Three or four splooshes of lemon juice.
More salt than you think you need.
Six or seven ripe, sweet plum tomatoes.
Several (and I mean several) snips of fresh
coriander (what you call in the US cilantro). The powdered stuff, while lovely, just doesn't do it.
Cut the avocados in half with a sharp knife, around the pit. Scoop the adorably green avocado goop out with a spoon, then get rid of the pits and peels. Put the avocados into a bowl the size of a good-sized soup bowl, and mush them with a potato masher (or a fork if you like). Sploosh the lemon juice over, stirring after every sploosh, until you have a consistency that's the consistency you like for dips. Salt it. I use sea salt, and I use a lot of it. Salt, stir, taste. Salt, stir, taste. That's how it goes. Nowhere is the magical effect of salt on things so apparent as in really good guacamole. Throw in your two handfuls of onions, stir, and taste again. Yummy yet? Well, yes, but wait. Get your herb snips out (or, you know, poultry scissors or something), and snip some cilantro/coriander in. Remember to snip small bits so you make sure the leaves are cut-- this enhances the flavour. Oh, yeah. Now, take the plum tomatoes and cut them up into fourths or smaller, then stir them in.
I took a bite. "I did it!"
"You got the right guacamole?"
Oh, yes. I got the right guacamole right here.