guacamole in mortar and pestle
To rock the guac at home, you don't have to use a mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock, but it makes an impression.

Some holidays are simply excuses to partake in certain yummy foods. Or at least that's the way it can seem. Cinco de Mayo is one of these – it's an excuse for a whole waterfront festival of not just foods but amusement park rides and music and fireworks. And lots of people.

If waterfront wildness isn't your scene, though, just rock the guac at home. It's easy, and will probably taste a lot better than anything you could buy. You can still honor the Mexican Americans who spontaneously inaugurated the holiday in California on May 5, 1862, when shot off guns and fireworks upon hearing that their native country had defeated the far better equipped (and much larger) French army in a battle over paying back debt. (Britain and Spain agreed to longer repayment terms, but the French, under Napoleon III, wanted their money toute de suite.)

As with most dips, there are a million ways to prepare guacamole, but it's always mostly avocado. And since avocado is a super-food, full of the "good fats," feel good about eating lots of it!

Options and extras:
  • Add diced tomato (if it's tasty and fresh)  
  • Add diced shallots (or onions or scallions for an even sharper flavor) 
  • Squeeze in some fresh lime 
  • Chop in some tomatillo for more zestiness and zip (that's the papery-skinned green tomato-like fruit you might've seen but not known what to do with)
Williams-Sonoma recommends preparing the guacamole in a "molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic rock. One of the world's oldest kitchen tools, it was used by the Aztecs in Mexico for grinding corn into flour." If you've misplaced your molcajete, a flat bottomed bowl works quite well, in conjunction with a potato masher to smash the avocados. A humble fork works, too. 
Here's a recipe adapted from William-Sonoma:

Guacamole

  • 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped  (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon diced shallot or white onion
  • 2 serrano chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 large avocados, preferably Haas, cut in half, pits removed
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro

Optional garnish:
1 tablespoon each fresh small cilantro leaves, finely chopped white onion, finely chopped ripe tomato. 

Directions:
Put the tomato (optional), onion, chilies, lime juice, garlic and the 1/2 teaspoon salt in a molcajete or small bowl, and smash with a pestle or fork to a coarse paste. With a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh from its skin, or peel skin. Mix avocado into the tomato mixture (a potato masher works well). Add the minced cilantro and mix and mash, leaving some lumps. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt. 

Optional: sprinkle the guacamole with any or all of the garnishes and serve immediately, if possible.
If serving later: keep at room temperature for up to 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface. To keep for up to 3 hours, do not add the cilantro until just before serving, and cover and store in the refrigerator. Wrapping the avocado pits with the guacamole is said to help retain freshness and avoid discoloration.
Yield: about 2 cups.

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