Many great things have come from France.
Brie. Champagne. Ratatouille. Chanel perfume. Chanel dresses. Chocolate croissants. Gilles Marini. I could go on…
One of the best things that I personally connect to France is guacamole. C’est une surprise, non? It’s not a French food by any means (it actually derives from Mexico), but I owe my love for it to a teenage French girl that lived with my family and me for two weeks while I was in high school.
Before I tell you the story, I have to brag and share with you about how I got lucky at a local Hispanic grocery store the other day and picked up a big package of 12(!) jalapenos for $1.00 and 3(!) avocados for $1.50. Fantastic deals! And they put me into guac-mode.
I obviously have a thing for reduced produce prices. Back to the story —
I used to hate avocado. The texture and color disgusted me for years, so I avoided the soft fruit. Lucky for me, I met Clem. Or really, I picked Clem from a list of 30 French exchange students after convincing my parents to let me host one in the spring of my junior year. I remember that the picture that was attached to her exchange application looked as if a professional had taken it. She also mentioned on the application how she loved to see new places and eat. I was sold.
After a month or so of anticipation, Clem flew in from Paris and moved into the guest room at home. To this day, I have never met anyone who loves Converse sneakers as much as this girl did. I think she brought 9 pairs with her to the States. For a two week stay! I’d be happy to have 9 pairs of underwear with me on a two week trip.
One of my favorite outings with Clem was when we spent a sunny Saturday morning at the local farmer’s market. We went there with the intention of buying some avocats, limons, and piment jalapenos (avocados, lemons, and jalapenos) to make guacamole. She claimed that she made it all the time with her family in Paris and wanted to teach me how to make it, too. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about my extreme dislike of avocados, so I went along with it and just hoped for the best.
Once back home, we worked together in the kitchen chopping the peppers, onions, and garlic. She showed me how to open an avocado properly and the trick to keeping prepared guacamole green. At the end of the day, I realized that my fear of avocados was completely irrational because the guacamole was so refreshing and delicious. Not to mention colorful, flavorful, and healthy.
Makes 1 batch
3 ripe Haas avocados, split, seeded, and peeled (here’s a great how-to video)
2 to 3 jalapeno peppers, finely minced (remove the seeds before mincing for less spice and heat)
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Split, seed, and peel the avocados reserving at least 1 pit. Mash the peeled avocado in a medium bowl using the back of spoon. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Adjust seasonings if needed.
Place the reserved avocado pit in the middle of the guacamole. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it down so that the wrap sits right on top of the dip. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Store for up to 3 days (make sure to re-cover with plastic wrap).
Besides the memory of a fun spring with Clem, the other reason why I love guacamole is that it’s a very fun food to play around with. Some favorite additions/adaptations I make to the basic above recipe are listed below:
- Add 1 or 2 diced Roma tomatoes and 4 sprigs of freshly chopped cilantro
- For a little more spice, replace the black pepper with ground cayenne pepper
- Replace the lemon juice with lime juice, or use a little of both
- For a lot more spice, use a serrano pepper in place of the jalapeno
- Add ¼ to ½ tsp. of other spices such as cumin or ground chipotle
So go out to the store, pick up some avocados, and make guacamole today! If you happen to buy a pair of Converses on the way home too, I won’t judge.