I remember the first time I had guacamole that was made "table side." It was in San Antonio and I was with Emmett and my good friend Heidi and we were all drinking prickly pear margaritas. I'll never forget the ease and confidence with which the waitress (guacamole girl?) pulled together all the ingredients, never referencing a recipe or notes. Of course it helped that everything was pre-cleaned and pre-chopped, waiting in little bowls for her on her "guacamole cart" on wheels...but that didn't lessen my impression of her guac-making capabilities at all. She smiled the whole time she was making it, as if we were invited guests at her home and not some paying customers at a restaurant on the Boardwalk, one of a hundred tourists she saw every day. Perhaps I told her I had never had guacamole served that way and she was genuinely excited to make it for me. Or maybe she was simply responding to my body language that was not just saying "this is so cool," it was shouting it (insert image of me grinning ear-to-ear, clapping my hands together wildly, and making an abundance of happy sounds and comments). Whatever the case, every time I saw her wheel by with her cart, my heart did a little pitter-patter knowing some lucky table was about to get their guacamole made table side. Bam!
The only guacamole I had had prior to that was when I went to Chi Chi's for half-price margaritas on Tuesdays in Brooklyn Park, Minn. I never saw someone actually make the guacamole, however. It just came on the side of the bean and cheese burrito I would occasionally order. It was a green wad of mush sitting next to the white wad of mush (sour cream). The "margaritas" weren't much better but they were just $3 (for the jumbo!) and I was 21 and that combination worked just fine for me.
I don't recall my parents or friends ever making guacamole but I'm sure it happened sometime, at least once, when I lived in Minnesota. I just don't remember it. Probably because it tasted unmemorable. Which is not to say that Minnesotans don't know how to make guacamole but that by the time an avocado makes it to the upper Midwest, it has lost most of its avocadoiness. And when you're paying upwards of $2 per avocado, it's a gamble most aren't willing to take. But after that San Antonio experience, I was bound and determined to make FRESH guacamole. With my own hands. Avocadolessness be damned. I found a recipe called "Guacamole is Hot!" in my copy of The New Basics Cookbook (my very first go-to cookbook) and I loved it so much I have never made any other version. Not that I made guacamole very often back then...the high cost of avocados, the short summer, the mild-is-too-spicy taste buds of friends and family did not add up to prime appetizer/snack placement.
Then I moved to California.
It seemed like guacamole was EVERYWHERE here. Every party I attended, every restaurant I ate at, every grocery store deli I walked by...there was the silky and chunky green base accented with bursts of white-white onion, red-red tomato, antique white garlic, bright green jalapeno, and dark green cilantro. Decent avocados (and fabulous ones when you get them at the farmer's market) are available year round and guacamole is as ubiquitous in California as tuna noodle casserole is in Minnesota. And that is just fine by me.
Still, I reserved serving up my homemade "Guacamole is Hot!" for when guests came over for parties or happy hours. You see, my recipe calls for three avocados (not to mention the slew of other ingredients) and no matter how much Emmett and I love my guacamole, we just can't eat an entire batch in one sitting. And no one wants to eat LEFTOVER guacamole (that would be like eating leftover movie-theater popcorn...I don't think so!). It never occurred to me to make just a small batch of guac for us.
Until this summer.
For whatever reason, we seemed to have gone on an avocado buying spree this season. There were always three or four, sometimes even five, very ripe avocados in the fridge at all times. Why? Who knows. That's just the way things went down. Then one Saturday afternoon, early in June, as I was checking out my veganic garden, I realized I had the tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, and lemons growing in my back yard that would be great in guac. And my neighbor was growing jalapeno peppers in her garden. All I needed was the avocados (check!) and garlic (always check!). I turned to Emmett and boldly declared, "I'm gonna make us a batch of guacamole for happy hour today." And without hesitation, he said, "I'll make the margaritas."
So without pulling out my cookbook and using only ONE avocado, I started tossing things into a bowl, tasting, making slight adjustments, and BAM! BEST. GUAC. EVER. Now I understood why my San Antonio guacamole girl was smiling the whole time she was making our dish. Because it's that EASY and that SATISFYING, especially when you're using homegrown (specifically organic and veganic) ingredients. Thus, this has become the Summer of Guacamole. I "accidentally" buy too many avocados and Emmett and I end up "having" to make one-avocado guac every Saturday and Sunday (and sometimes during the week if he works from home!).
I'll share with you my "One-Avocado Guacamole is Hot!" recipe but I'm warning you--I don't measure things for this dish. It's all based on instinct, the freshness of the ingredients, and my mood. Sometimes I like it hotter, sometimes more lemony, sometimes more cilantro-y. That's the way we do things out here in California. And that is just fine by me.
Barb's One-Avocado Guacamole is Hot!
- One very ripe avocado - it shouldn't be PAST it's prime but it should be staring it in the face
- One small tomato, de-snotted (take the guts out) and coarsely chopped
- One large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 of a medium-size jalapeno, minced
- Two to three scallions, white part and some of green, coarsely chopped
- Handful of cilantro leaves (no stems) - do not chop or mince these. Leave as whole leaves!
- Shy tablespoon of FRESH lemon juice
- Pinch of sea salt
- Couple dashes of hot pepper sauce (optional)
Mash avocado with a folk. Be sure to leave some chunks...it shouldn't be soupy smooth. Carefully stir in the rest of the ingredients and serve immediately!