04 Aug Our Love Affair with Guacamole
With National Guac Day (Sept. 16) Right Around The Corner, It Is About Time We Celebrated This Brilliant Dip
Guacamole! Who doesn’t love this rich and heavenly dip? The combination of buttery avocados, sweet tomatoes, and sharp onions, made even better with lime and, if you’re daring, with jalapeños. It’s pure bliss. Every Mexican dish craves the company of this brilliant dip.
Many people eat guacamole, but most people don’t know the history of guacamole and the many ways you can creatively serve and devour this splendid green concoction. As the best Mexican restaurant on Hilton Head, we decided to share with you everything we know about guacamole.
Avocados Are Deliciously Nutritious
Guacamole is essentially a mix of mashed avocado and spices. The avocado finds its origins in South Central Mexico. For this reason, guacamole was created by the Maya Indians who inhabited that region.
It contains many natural fats and nutrients in addition to being readily available. It is a high source of carbs and healthy fats. The properties that come from avocados may help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is also a great source of sodium and potassium which can work against developing hypertension and high blood pressure.
Additionally, it is a source for dietary fiber, Vitamin C, B6, and Vitamin E. One serving of guacamole can serve as a quarter of your daily recommended fiber intake. This helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar as well.
Guacamole is increasingly finding its way into non-Mexican dishes: spurted over deep fried tater tots, spread on grilled cheese sandwiches, and subbed for mayo on burgers.
You’ve likely enjoyed it smooth and creamy, chunky and bulky, and stuffed full of jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions. Why? Because there is no wrong way to make or eat guacamole! All versions are delicious. Who among us hasn’t uttered the words “Can I have some guac with that?” and nodded instantly, when told it costs extra, no matter how much? Because, let’s be real, you know your burrito bowl needs it. But before our modern multi-universe of guacamole, there was a simpler and also beloved version that was first nashed more than 500 years ago.
The Word “Guacamole”
Meso-Americans cultivated the wild avocado, a tree fruit that had grown in the region for millions of years. Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole was made from avocado, chiles, fresh tomatoes, and salt. The conquering Aztecs called the avocado ahuacatl. The “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, hence, ah-hua-CAH-tay.
AhuacmOlli (ahowaka-Mole-ee) is a compound of ahuacatl (avocado) + mOlli (sauce). The chocolate based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived under Hernando Cortes in 1519, they heard ah-hwah-cay-tay as “aguacate.” So with the spelling and pronunciation they used In Spanish, ahuacamOlli became guacamole (huac-ah-Moe-lay).
Guacamole ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-Het-lay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone (today granite is an easier to clean option). Over time, different regions of Mexico mixed in local ingredients, creating countless versions. Ahuacati, avocado, first meant testicle in Nahuatl. The Aztecs saw the avocado hanging from the tree branches as resembling testicles, and ate them as a sex stimulant. Not sure if that actually worked, though.
So How Did Guacamole Evolve To The Guac We Know And Love Today?
As we indicated before, early accounts claim the Mayan’s were already adding tomatoes and chiles to their guacamole since these products were native to the Americas. However, once the Europeans established trade between the Americas, Africa, and Europe, new types of produce and food hit the New World market. Items like garlic, onions, cilantro, and limes….sound familiar, guacamole fans?
Sometime in the 1500s, after the Spaniards were introduced to the Aztec avocado mixture, they thought it would be a huge hit back in the home country. So they tried to create guacamole in Spain.
Unfortunately, avocados didn’t grow naturally in Spain, so they had to try and use substitutes. One can only imagine the avocado-less “guacamole” the Spaniards attempted to whip up to impress friends and family, but given that guacamole (and not, in fact, “Spanish guacamole”) is a big hit in Europe today, it stands to reason that they didn’t succeed very well in Europeanizing the dish.
Over the centuries, the dish continued to grow in popularity but it really exploded in the 1990s, likely because the U.S. lifted an 83-year-old ban on avocado imports (originally to control avocado agricultural pests from entering the States). Also the Latinx population grew by 14 million between 1990 and 2000 bringing with them an appetite for traditional dishes.
So, How Many Types of Avocados Are There?
Although guacamole originated there, Mexico is not the only place to grow avocados. There are three domesticated varieties of the fruit with slight differences in appearance and flavor: Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian.
That said, Mexico is one of the largest producers of avocados, supplying 32% of the world total. Here’s a fun fact: the oldest avocado pit ever found is 9,000 to 10,000 years old and was discovered in a cave in Puebla, Mexico. More fun facts: there are now more than 500 types of avocados all over the world, and some avocado trees are known to survive for hundreds of years.
The Hass avocado, the one you mostly see in the grocery store, was not the kind the Aztecs used, it dates just back to the 1920s when a California postman bought regular avocado seeds, planted them, grafted a few varieties together, and one of the seedlings yielded a totally new variety. This was the large-ish avocado we know today as the Hass avocado (named after the postman himself, Rudolph Hass). Thank you, Rudy. We love your Hass avocado and so does the world: they’re 95% of the avocado consumed today.
What to Eat with Guacamole: 13 Perfect Pairings
Let’s expand our horizons. We know that guacamole is perfect with some delicious tortilla chips. You really can’t go wrong. The tortilla chips are the vehicle for the guacamole to enter your mouth, and they allow the real star of the show (the quac, of course) to shine. It really is perfection. However, if you’re looking to branch out a bit, let’s see what else will be amazing with guacamole.
Think avocado toast with a tangy twist. Spread that creamy guacamole generously onto your toast, top it with smoky bacon bits and serve with a side of over-easy eggs. Now that’s what we call the breakfast of champions. (Sorry, Wheaties).
Guacamole is so rich and nutty, it gives anything you dip into it so much more flavor. Be sure to use crunchy vegetables so they don’t become soggy as you dip them. Our favorites: cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and zucchini.
Instead of the traditional burger dressings or boring old mayo, go for a healthy and umami flavor by using guacamole. And if you’ve used the right spices, it can really give your burger a bit of a zing, too.
Say goodbye to ketchup for now because French fries and guacamole make a wonderful partnership.
Pita bread is usually eaten with dips like hummus or tzatziki. Change these classic combos by trying it with guacamole instead! And, here again, the mild pita is happy to take a back seat and let the guac shine.
Mexican meets Japanese in this fusion of flavors. We’re sure you had a sushi roll with avocado, but you can take it to the next level with guacamole.
A touch of creamy and buttery guacamole could be just what your pizza needs. Whatever you choose for the rest of your toppings, they will be a little more exciting with some fresh guacamole.
True, grilled cheese is already perfect on its own, what with the perfectly toasted bread and ooey-gooey melted cheese. But, there are always ways to improve things. Try spreading some guac directly on the bread before grilling for a taste delight.
Pineapples and avocados make such a wonderful combination. The sweetness and tanginess of the tropical fruit just gets better when topped with rich and savory guacamole. If you’re skeptical on this one, trust me and give it a try. Tasting is believing on this one.
Could this spread be any more versatile? Guacamole can even work as a tasty soup base. Puree it to make a delicious and refreshing avocado soup or to use it to garnish other soups (we’re looking at you, Chicken Tortilla Soup).
Deviled eggs are already so creamy, but a dollop of guacamole couldn’t hurt, and the color combination is just stunning.
Instead of the classic tartar sauce, why not use guacamole to flavor your favorite fried fish? It’s the perfect healthy accompaniment.
Sour cream always works well, but so does guacamole. You know what’s even better? Both! Top your spuds with this combo, it’ll be bursting with flavor.
Guacamole: Who knew? Join us at Holy Tequila for (without a doubt) the best authentic Mexican cuisine on Hilton Head Island. Please, don’t miss National Guacamole Day celebrated every year on September 16th.