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Summers with Guacamole

When I think of “must-have summer recipes,” several dishes immediately come to mind. Key lime pie; cheesecake; all manner of red, white, and blue desserts for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day; potato salad; deviled eggs; fried green tomatoes; corn on the cob – and many more. Because I am from Texas and dearly love Mexican and Tex-Mex food, I love tacos and chili during the summer as I do in every other season.

But I must settle on guacamole as my favorite summer food. I’d like to tell you it’s because guacamole is so good for people, thanks to the health benefits of avocados (and the also-healthy fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and onion my recipe uses). I could say I nominate guacamole as a champion food of summer because of its versatility – it can be used as an alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches and tastes good on burgers, and of course, it’s nice alongside fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, chalupas, etc. But that’s not my reason for choosing to share my guacamole recipe, either.

The embarrassing truth is, I have a sentimental attachment to guacamole. It reminds me of happy days when I was young, living in Texas when every day felt lit with sunshine. Nothing on my body hurt yet from aging, everybody in my family was still alive, and it felt like my future held infinite possibilities. I really felt like I had the world on a string, a tiger by the tail. I was fearless and happy – there was no reason not to be.

Flash forward 30 years. I bought a wonderful Tex-Mex cookbook I found in a bookstore. The cookbook was written by some transplanted Texans now living in Washington, DC. Within its pages was a simple but delicious recipe for guacamole. I tried the recipe out and loved it, and I’ve been making that same recipe ever since and happily sharing the results with friends who share my guacamole fixation.

Five years ago, I made a big batch of guacamole for the people in the office where I was working at the time, and when they oohed and aahed over it, I quipped, “You have to learn how to make decent guacamole if you’re from Texas. If you can’t, they’ll take away your passport!”

And finally, I will admit to you that I actually wrote a song about guacamole, those five years ago. My workplace was so full of tension at the time that I just wanted to have some way to laugh and to have my co-workers laugh. And you know what? It worked. My small little office got some big belly laughs and a lot of delicious guacamole and chips to get through that particular workweek. Yes, guacamole is magical. Yes, it has that power.

My guacamole song was really a love song to Texas, the place where I grew up and which I still think of as home.

Very few people have heard me sing my guacamole song out loud, but those who did giggled or smiled, which is nice. My hastily written lyrics are set to the tune of “It’s a long way to Tipperary,” and yes, I’ll share them with you. Feel free to sing them yourself sometime if you’re having a bad day. They actually work; they actually help; they actually make you feel better.

It’s a long way to guacamole
It’s a long way from here
It’s a long way to guacamole
To the land I hold so dear
 
It’s a long way to guacamole 
To the land of sunshine so fair
When I’ve got me a hot tamale
I’ll know I’m finally there!
 
Please pass me some Picante
Tomatillo sauce will do, too
Sure wish I’d taken Spanish
Way back when in my high school!
 
It’s a long way to guacamole
To the land of sunshine so fair
When I’ve got me a hot tamale
I’ll know I’m finally there!

Let it never be said that I am afraid to look or sound silly. And, because my mother told me I’d never make it through life without a sense of humor, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Here is the guacamole recipe, courtesy of the 1978 Tex/Mex cookbook authored by Rue Judd and Ann Worley.

Guacamole
2 ripe avocados, mashed
½ peeled tomato, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. grated onion
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Return the avocado seeds to the mixture and cover it tightly to prevent discoloration.

Yields 1 ½ to 2 cups.

Serve Guacamole as a dip with chips, on a bed of lettuce garnished with tomatoes for a salad, or on Chalupas.

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