Did you know that avocado is one of the best superfoods in the world? The fruit is incredibly nutritious. Densely packed with over 20 vitamins and minerals, it is a fruit of mainly carbohydrates and fats. Fats may scare you but do not worry as avocado is the only fruit that contains heart-healthy cholesterols!
Some FUN FACTS about the avocado
- They contain 60% more potassium than bananas.
- Over 70% of the oil is polyunsaturated – good fats (cholesterol).
- They are one of only three fruits that have oil in their flesh.
- They have more fat than any other fruit.
- They have two to three times the amount of protein as other fruits.
Now that we have introduced our main character, let us look into one of the amazing dips in food history – Guacamole.
Guacamole or Guac
Guacamole, a Mexican dish, consists of the main ingredients: avocado, salt, lime juice.
Some recipes would call for the addition of some zest such as tomatoes, garlic, onion and other seasonings. The choice is really up to you to expand your guacamole special treats!
Guacamole is highly sought for during popular occasions such as Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Super Bowl Sunday, and Easter. This is why we have a day dedicated to guacamole itself! The National Guacamole Day falls on every 16th of September!
How did Guac come about?
If you look at the main ingredients, the first thing we need to set foot on for the history of guacamole is the avocado itself! The avocado is the key to making a good bowl of guacamole.
The name ‘Guacamole’ comes from an Aztec dialect via Nahuatl āhuacamolli, which literally means “avocado sauce”, from āhuacatl (“avocado”) + molli (“sauce”, “concoction”). In Mexican Spanish, It is pronounced as [wakaˈmole] in Mexican Spanish while in English it is just guacamole.
Āhuacatl (avocado) means “testicle” or “testicle tree”. The avocado tree was named as such due to the striking resemblance of the fruit to the male genitalia. It was said that women in Aztec villages were not allowed to leave the house during the avocado harvest for fear of sexual impurity!
How interesting is that? Apparently, the Aztecs believed that the avocado is aphrodisiac. Though this is not supported by science it does not appear to be utilised much today too.
The Aztecs combined mash avocados with chilis, onions and tomatoes, which is pretty much the same as the recipe we have today. Instead, sometimes cilantro, lime or garlic are added to give colour and extra zest.
As early as 7000 BC, avocados were first cultivated in Central America. However, the exact country of origin is still debatable. The Aztecs created the guacamole from avocado when the fruit was available in Mexico back in the 1300s. Superfruit avocado has high contents of fat, which is an advantage to the Aztecs as they are unable to constantly source for foods rich in fat.
In the early 1500s, the Spaniards arrived in Mexico and fell madly in love with Aztec’s guacamole, and subsequently, the fruit, avocado itself. When the Spaniards attempted to bring the fruit back to Spain, the avocado did not preserve well and thus, production was at a dead end. They even tried to recreate guacamole with other substitutes but of course, there is no other fruit like avocados.
About 350 years after the Spaniards landed in Mexico, the first avocado tree was planted and successfully cultivated in California in 1871. Avocados are a thriving crop by the 1900s, and currently, California produces up to 90% of America’s avocados.
Making the Guac
It is ridiculously easy to make guacamole. All you need to do is just mash up ripe avocados and add in the other seasonings and toppings. Traditionally, guacamole is made using a mortar and pestle (molcajete in Mexican).
Avocado cells contain polyphenol oxidase and when exposed to oxygen in the air, it causes an enzymatic reaction and develops melanoidin pigment which turns the sauce brown. The brownish appearance generally makes the guacamole look unappetising. To avoid this, guacamole is prepared fresh and stored in air-tight containers or by wrapping up the surface with plastic to limit the exposure to air.
Since the guacamole is an uncooked dish, hence, the ingredients used are very important. These ingredients should be fresh and of high quality. Avocado, the main ingredient is often hard to choose and to know its ripeness. Its colour can range from green to black. When choosing avocados, we would want the ones that are ripe but not overly mushy.
How to tell if an avocado is ripe? Use your thumb and gently push on the top where the stem connects. This is the narrower end of the avocado. The flesh should give way a little. If it does not give, it is not ripe enough. If it gives too easily, it is too ripe and will not make good guacamole. However, mushy avocados are of good use as milkshakes and salsas, so there is no need to throw out those!
Avocados have large pits which should be removed. How to remove the pit?
The most common method is to use a kitchen knife cut all the way around the avocado lengthwise then twist the two halves of the avocado until one side comes off. Holding the side of the avocado with the pit in the palm of your hand with the pit facing up, hit the pit with the sharp side of the knife blade to embed the knife in the pit. Proceed to twist the knife sideways and the pit will pop out.
WARNING! It is very common to see avocado injuries in the emergency. Be cautious while handling a sharp knife.
Guacamole is not only delicious, but it is also nutritious! Celebrate the National Guacamole Day with your very own version of guac! You can make it plainly, seasoned with salt; or add in some tanginess with lime and tomatoes. There are endless possibilities for guacamole! #LetsGuac