I miss a couple of things about California – the sunshine and the avocados. Actually that’s not all I miss about California, but can you beat the avocados? I’ve even named my computer avocado in honor of the fruit! You know you have a good one when the dark green exterior is firm to the touch but yields to gentle pressure. When you cut open such a specimen, you will find the flesh is light green in color with a brown seed. The way to take out the seed is to slap a sharp knife into it; the knife gets lodged in the seed and then you pull the knife out with the seed attached to it (information courtesy of many hundreds of hours of watching Food Network). Once the seed is out, you scoop out the flesh and mash or cut it up. Before doing anything to it, pop a piece in your mouth. The flesh will be soft with the faintest kiss of sweetness and a word oft used to describe the avocado – buttery. That’s because it exactly feels like butter melting on your tongue when you eat a piece of avocado. It is a fatty fruit but not heavy, it’s actually healthy. What do you know, everything good is not illegal, immoral or fattening after all!
In grad school avocados were such a treat. I couldn’t afford to buy them but when I was in the mood to splurge, I would always order extra guacamole on the side with my dinner. Guacamole is perhaps the most famous thing to do with avocados. I’ve had a favorite recipe for several years now and it’s so old I cannot even remember where it’s from – the source is not written in my file. But here it is –
1 lg avocado
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp salsa
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet onions, finely chopped
1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomatoes, finely chopped or chunky depending on how you like it
2 tsp black olives, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
I often don’t follow the measurements precisely. I add the ingredients in the order of the flavors and texture I feel are needed. The sour cream adds tang and creaminess; the salsa sweetness and juiciness; the garlic makes everything better; the onions add crunch; the cilantro makes it fresh and lemony; the tomatoes give it color, sweetness and a bite; the black olives give the guac a tart bite and finally the lemon juice (sometimes I will add zest too) makes it fresh and bright. For some heat I will add chopped fresh or pickled jalapenos. The right combination of ingredients and you have a dip that is smooth, hot and sweet, but with an occasional bite to it, like a little surprise.
I have made this dip on several occasions. It has become one of my specialties; every time there was a get-together I was the one bringing the guac. I made it in grad school exactly once and had a couple of friends over and made duplicate Chipotle burritos at home, cilantro lime rice and all. I made it for a super bowl watching party the day the Indianapolis Colts (my favorite NFL team!) won the super bowl in 2007 . This is one of hubby’s favorite things that I cook, so he enthusiastically asked me to make this for the party. He was really excited about the game except he doesn’t care for football or the Colts. All he wanted was the chips and the dip. In fact any time I would vote for a football viewing party he would say yes, just for the guac! I have thrown this dip together for hubby’s impromptu jamming sessions with his band. I have made loads of this guac for several bbqs. Heck anytime avocados were cheap in the market I would buy some, make guac and have people over! I’ve always wanted to try making salads with avocado, but never got around to it. We would always have our meals at Mexican restaurants with avocado on the side and with a sprinkle of lemon it tasted great. Plus I would always watch these great avocado salads being made on Food Network. Yet I never made one because I always made guac. Such was the curse of the guacamole!
What do you know, my son loves avocados too! I have this baby food book which recommended that the four best first foods for baby are rice cereal, banana, avocado and yogurt (don’t take my word for it new moms, read the book!). So avocado was the third food I gave my son. He adored them and would have half an avocado at a time, sometimes a whole one. Just before we moved back last summer I was loading him with avocados – firstly because I felt bad that he loved them so much and wouldn’t get them here; secondly because along with banana they are easiest thing to feed a baby. Things were so crazy with the move that sometimes all I could do was peel an avocado or a banana and give it to him with yogurt! Our friends were bringing him the best avocados of the summer from far and wide. Boy was he one pampered baby and still is!
Sigh! How I miss avocados. But today has been a good day because I have discovered peaches and cherries in the market here in Powai. Just what I had been waiting for! Summer, I don’t mind you now at all.