Whether you know it or not, Wednesday was a big national holiday.
Yes, it was the day Mexico celebrates the start of its revolt against the Spaniards who controlled their country for nearly three centuries.
It was on this day in 1810 that Father Miguel Hidalgo offered his famous “Cry of Dolores” speech, “El Grito de Dolores.” And while Hidalgo was eventually executed one year later, that speech ignited the small army of men he banded together. They fought valiantly until Mexico won its independence in September 1821.
To this day, Mexico celebrates the start of its independence each Sept. 16 with parades, festivals, fireworks and feasts.
How does a food column tie into a Mexican Independence Day celebration?
Because Sept. 16 also happens to be National Guacamole Day. How awesome is that?
I guess it makes sense. Guacamole originated with the Aztecs back in the 16th century, the name literally meaning “avocado sauce.” It is believed that avocados were first cultivated in Central America as early as 7000 B.C. From there, avocados made their way north to Mexico, where the Aztecs developed the dish.
Guacamole is often made with the Hass variety of avocado. This type of avocado grows throughout California and parts of the West and varies from the Florida avocado varieties.
First of all, the Hass variety is smaller, has a bumpy skin that turns from dark green to purplish or black as it ripens. Florida avocados are larger, with smooth green skin. Florida avocados have slightly less fat content per serving than the Hass variety, making them great as sandwich or salad toppings.
That extra bit of fat deepens the rich and creamy nature, making Hass varieties the choice for guacamole throughout the United States.
And avocados are incredibly healthy.
The type of fat found in avocados is primarily monounsaturated fat, or what health professionals call “healthy fat.”
Avocados are rich in potassium, much more so than bananas. Avocados are loaded with dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6.
Guacamole can be made and enjoyed in a variety of ways.
I like mine to be spicy sometime, so I will substitute a serrano pepper in place of the jalapeño in any given recipe. Just be sure that if you do use a serrano, discard the seeds unless you are into intense heat followed by full-blown pain and sweats.
The basic foundation of a good guacamole sauce — in addition to avocados, of course — is lime juice, small chopped pieces of tomato, diced onions and cilantro. From there, you can be as creative as you want.
The secret is choosing the avocados at the peak of their ripeness. If squeezed, there should be a little give but still feel firm throughout.
Take your thumb and press it on the palm of your hand. Your flesh gives a little yet is still firm. That is how your avocado should feel. Buy one too early and the avocado pulp is too tough. Get one beyond ripeness, and it’s far too mushy.
The tomatoes should be firm in order to hold their shape after being cut into small pieces.
Your cilantro should be fragrant. I mean, you should be able to place it in your shopping cart and still get a nice whiff of it.
And once you get a basic guacamole recipe down, you can go crazy with options. For example, sometimes I will take some store-bought mild to spicy tomatillo sauce and mix a tablespoon into my finished guacamole.
If you like, you can toss in two or three cloves of minced garlic in the basic recipe.
In fact, you can get really creative with guacamole. One time, I roasted some corn and added that to my guacamole. There was another time I added serrano pepper and then topped it with habanero sauce.
OK, that one was too spicy even for me! I still ate it despite the tears.
There are literally thousands of great guacamole recipes from which to choose.
Lift your sombrero and honor Mexico’s Independence Day by making yourself a fresh batch at home tonight. Try not eat the whole thing in one sitting as I often do. Better yet, make enough to have for your next football game. Serve that along with some chicken wings and beer, and give me a call.
Basic guacamole recipe
2-3 Haas avocados (cut in half, pit removed)
The juice of one lime (If needed you can add a bit more for moisture, texture and acidity)
½ of an onion (white or purple based on your preference, diced)
2 Roma tomatoes (seeded and diced into small cubes)
1 small jalapeno or serrano pepper (seeded and diced)
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
Kosher salt to taste
In a large bowl, scoop the avocado off the peel. Add the pepper, tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Using a fork mash the avocados while folding in with the ingredients. Add the lime juice and fold into mixture. Add salt to taste. Using the back of a fork lets you mash the avocado while still keeping a few pieces whole for a chunkier guacamole sauce. If you prefer smaller chunks you can use a potato masher. Once the guacamole is mixed together, let it sit for a bit so that all the flavors marry together before serving.
If you are going to refrigerate your guacamole, place it in a covered container.
Email Leon at firstname.lastname@example.org.