Today is Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May and a celebration of Mexico. The celebration mainly occurs here in the United States but not in much of Mexico. It marks a battle that was won in a war that was lost – maybe a reason for a shot or two of tequila at most. Regardless, it has become tradition here. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a great way to focus on some wonderful culinary gifts from south of the border.
I am of two minds about “Mexican” food. First of all, I have to tell you that one of the finest chefs I know is Mexican and his restaurants are in the Mexican wine country (near Ensenada) and Mexico City. He cooks the most sublime food and has probably never refried a bean or pressed a tortilla in his professional career. People forget that Mexico is a large and varied country with more prosperous people than ever. There are also many poor people who travel north for work. It is probably those folks that have brought this country the simple food that we know as Mexican.
There is nothing wrong with the simple food of Mexico (other than a steady diet will put on the pounds), but it is generally the ONLY food we know from Mexico. There are very limited exceptions. In New York. there is a wonderful restaurant on the Upper East Side called “Maya” that specialize in Mexican influenced gourmet dishes. Ironically, there are none in Los Angeles. So, unless you travel to Mexico, which is becoming less likely all of the time, you will have to take my word that there is a lot of really great cooking going on down there.
One of my favorite “Mexican” dishes is guacamole. I think I like it because it so local here in Southern California (settled by Mexicans). The recipe is fairly traditional. I think that when you move to California you are required to learn to make it before you are allowed to buy your first bottle of tequila.
(NOTE: There is a myth that says that if you leave the pit (or seed) of the avocado in the dip that it will keep it from going brown. Not only is this not true, it makes it hard to dip your chip in it. If you want to keep it from browning cover it or serve it immediately.)
- 3-4 Very Ripe Avocados
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
- 3-4 Green Onions, finely chopped
- 2-3 Limes
- Tabasco Sauce
- Salt and Pepper
- Chef’s Knife
- Mixing Bowl
- Cut the avocados in half. Remove seeds by holding the half with the seed in one hand and firmly flicking the knife into the center of the seed with your other hand. Twist a quarter of a turn and the seed should come right out.
- Run your thumb between the skin and the meat to remove it. Rough chop and place in bowl.
- Toss the rest of the ingredients in with the avocado. Mix gently.
- Shake tabasco sauce in until it reaches your level of heat.
- Squeeze as much lime as you like. Be generous.
- Salt and pepper to taste.