Not so holy guacamole

People tend to be fairly opinionated about their guacamole. Chunky or smooth? Should it just be a mashed up avocado with some salt and lime, or should there be more to it? Are tomatoes appropriate? What about garlic? Cumin? Well, I’m in the “stuff in my guacamole” camp. Avocados are delicious, but they’re even more so with a good fistful of cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice. And onion and tomato add a great flavor and texture contrast. I do put lots of fresh garlic in my guacamole, which I’ll admit is controversial. The aroma and bite that the fresh garlic brings to the party really complements the creamy avocado and tangy lime.


While the exact recipe is debated over, everyone agrees that good, ripe but not overripe avocados are the essential ingredient. Look for avocados that give slightly to the touch, but don’t go ’round the market squeezing the bejeesus out of all the avocados to see if they’re ripe. They’re a very delicate fruit. They bruise easily and besides, what did they do to you anyway? Just pick one up and gently press it in your hand. If it just gives, but isn’t soft, it’s ripe. If it’s hard, you can still buy it but leave it on the counter for a few days to ripen. If it’s very soft, chances are it’s a brown pile of nasty inside.

The avocado found in most supermarkets is the Hass, though there are other varieties, including Fuerte and Reed. All Hass avocados come from trees that have been grafted from one original tree, purchased by a postman named Rudolph Hass, and planted in his back yard in the 1920s. The original tree survived for over 80 years, and died in 2002. It’s amazing to think that all the Hass avocados, which account for 80% of the avocados sold in the United States, all originated from that one little tree!

I was just looking up the names of the other common varieties of avocado, and found an interesting fact: San Diego county produces over 60% of the United States’ avocados. Also, it seems that the Aztecs pegged the fruit as an aphrodisiac strong enough to warrant the locking up their virgin daughters during harvest season. The Aztec word for the avocado tree—ahuacuatl-–means testicle tree! Lordy. Seems there’s plenty I didn’t know about the avocado.


2 large or 3 small Hass avocados, coarsely chopped
2 large or 3 small roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium red or white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalopeno or serrano chile, seeds and stem removed, minced
a generous fistful of cilantro, finely chopped
zest from 1 lime and juice from 1 juicy or 2 not so juicy limes (or so)
salt and pepper to taste

Stir everything together, careful to not make a big mushy mess. I like my guac chunky!

Serves 4-6 as a dip, served with tortilla chips.



  1. Posted March 3, 2007 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    Avocados! \o/
    It’s that season again, eh? I’ve been getting a steady supply from the CSA for a few weeks now. I, too, am a stuff person. I’ll put just about anything in there: shrimp, jalapenos, basil, mangos, orange segments, they all go great.

    I personally like shrimp and mango guac. I will eat it straight out of the bowl, sans chips even!

  2. Posted March 3, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Mmmm…guacamole – another one of my favorite foods! I am also a stuff person – and my recipe is very similar to yours, just no garlic, and a tiny bit of cayenne. I also like it chunky – and I like to let it sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors meld. Good stuff!

  3. Posted March 5, 2007 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    jef—Yep, getting to be that time of year! We’re lucky here in SD with the avocados. The season is so long and they’re so cheap in the summer.

    Alice—Does it get brown when it sits? I guess you probably press a piece of plastic wrap on top. Nice!

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