What is guacamole?
Guacamole [(ɡ)wakaˈmole] is a Mexican side dish consisting of avocados, green chilli, lime and a number of optional ingredients, like finely chopped onion, peas, tomato cubes, coriander and garlic. The dish has its origins in Mexico’s dim and distant past and means avocado (guac) sauce (mole) in the Aztec dialect, Nahuatl. It is eaten all over the world as a dip, sauce or salad.
The Aztecs were the inventors of this creamy, green sauce. It is still eaten just as it was in the year 1500. The avocado has been grown in Mexico since 500 BC and has been commercially grown in the USA since 1915 after Californian farmers responded to the increasing demand for the fruit and planted the first avocado trees. The fruit, which was formerly known as crocodile pear or, in Spanish, “aguacate” was then officially named the “avocado”.
Did you know?
In America, guacamole is a standard dish on Superbowl Sunday, the day on which the final of the national American football championship takes place. No fewer than twelve million avocados are made into guacamole on that day.
How to make guacamole
Good guacamole starts with the right avocado, and that is the Hass avocado. This fruit has a dark green, bumpy skin that becomes blacker as it ripens. The right degree of ripening is crucial – the motto is not too hard, not too soft. The avocado is ideally crushed in a Mexican mortar, called a “molcajete”, but this is just about the only point on which guacamole connoisseurs agree. Onion or not. Tomato or no tomato. Coriander or not. Spices or no spices. The consequence of all these disagreements is that there are many different versions of guacamole.
One way to prepare guacamole, as often seen in Mexican restaurants in our country, is as follows: White onion, serrano peppers or green chilli and coriander are pounded into a paste with salt in the mortar. The flesh of perfectly ripe avocados is crushed into this. The crushing is not too long, because the avocado should still retain some of its texture. Finally, small tomato cubes are added, and possibly some lime juice – indispensable by some, forbidden by others – and ground cumin.
How to eat
Tortilla chips are essential. If you want to serve the dish in an authentic Mexican way, use fresh, warm corn tortillas to scoop it up.
Mexico has a beautiful sauce or mole tradition. In addition to guacamole, for example, people like to eat pico de gallo. In Greece, people like to dip pieces of pita bread in skordalia or tzatziki. We bet these dips are also delicious with tortilla chips.