I won’t swear to this but I don’t believe I experienced the buttery goodness of an avocado until my family made the move to Arizona when I was 13. Because back in the day, (a) ‘seasonal’ really did mean seasonal – as in, if it’s not in season in my hometown, it’s not on the store shelves and (b) Walla Walla isn’t an avocado growing climate, (c) I’m certain that if avocados were available ‘in season’, my family couldn’t afford them and most importantly, (d) Avocados are green. With knarly, bumpy skins. And they are soft and squishy. My grade school self said ‘Gross!’
In fact, I may not have actually tried an avocado until I was a bonafide, card-carrying adult and discovered what all the fuss was about – and had to admit I’d been missing out all those years. Avocados are now a permanent fixture on our kitchen counter; they are blended into green smoothies, sliced alongside segments of citrus, chunked onto the tops of soup, schmeared on warm toast and more often than not, smashed into silky, somewhat spicy guacamole.
But last fall, listening to Zarela Martinez share what it was like making guacamole with her mother, has forever changed how I view this simple dish. ‘My mother told us that guacamole was the butter of the poor,’ said Zarela. Dark eyes dancing, Zarela went on to describe how her mother would work whole avocados into a smooth consistency using a large stone molcajete (mole-kuh-HEE-tay), then gently warming dried oregano between the palms of her hands right before sprinkling it into the creamy green mash – it was as if her mother had created magic.
We now own a molcajete and whenever we place it on the counter and pull out the avocados to make guacamole, Zarela’s words have given me a connection – even though my own family history doesn’t come from Mexico.
The Professor is our dedicated guacamole-maker so that means yours truly is the one behind the video camera this time – kinda fun!
THE PROFESSOR’S GUACAMOLE
Makes approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups
NOTE: We make our guacamole in a Molcajete but you can also use a bowl and the back of a spoon or fork to mash. And, in our current favorite version, we use green onion and half a poblano pepper in lieu of regular onion and the jalapeño.
- 2 large avocadoes, halved and pitted
- ½ small onion, diced (approximately equal to ¼ cup – cut more if using extra-large avocados)
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- juice of half a lime
- salt/pepper to taste
- cilantro for garnish – optional
- Place avocados into molcajete
- Add onion and jalapeno
- Smash the avocado, onion and jalapeno until you have the consistency you like; we prefer having a few chunks for texture
- Place the oregano into the palms of your hands and gently rub together, allowing the oregano to fall into the bowl
- Squeeze the lime juice over the mash; salt and pepper to taste, cilantro for garnish (if using) and serve