Hors D'Oeuvres & First Courses The Book

26. Guacamole p.9

No linked recipe this time, but this one is so simple I don’t mind retyping it.

4 ripe California avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
3-4 serrano chiles, minced including seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mash with a fork until avocado is mashed but still somewhat chunky. Stir until blended.

This guacamole was absolutely minimalist, and not in a good way. No garlic, no cilantro, no tomatoes, no nothing. The avocado relish meant to accompany Tortilla Soup With Crisp Tortillas and Avocado Relish on page 96 is by far the superior guacamole (I’ll get to writing that up in a few months, I’m way way behind).

To be fair, the book does offer this version of the guacamole up as a base for several interesting variations: Guacamole with tomato, radish and cilantro guacamole, fall-winter fruit guacamole, and summer fruit guacamole. The radish and cilantro sounds particularly interesting. I’m adding radishes to the list of under appreciated vegetables, relegated to being picked around on crudité plates and otherwise ignored.

The central flaw with this recipe in all it’s variations is the omission of garlic. I don’t think I’ve ever had a guacamole without garlic, and I don’t think I care to ever again. I’m not sure if this this no garlic business is the traditional method and my readers in Oaxaca are exchanging sly glances about the stupid Canadian, but this is my stance and I’m sticking to it. Maybe if this was the first time I’d ever had guacamole I wouldn’t have missed the garlic, but theres no going back once you know the wonders of the avocado-lime-garlic trifecta.

Overall this was fine, but could have been so much more. The other variations may have worked out better than the base recipe, but as it was it was just dull.

N.B. I’ll do my best to push that nasty picture of the fajitas off the main page as quickly as possible. Sorry.


I'm a graduate student in Montreal. I spend most of my time studying drug addiction using brain imaging techniques. I'm also a foodie, exploring the culinary world both in and out of my kitchen.

12 replies on “26. Guacamole p.9”

Once again, KC, I must disagree. I can’t stand garlic in guacamole – it gives the flavour this slick of heaviness that really drags down everything else. My guacamole philosophy is always to make salsa fresca (tomato, cilantro, habanero, lime and a fresh, mild-tasting onion – I usually go for green or vidalia), which you can use as a base for the avocado but also reserve to use on its own.

Next time I’m in your neck of the woods in summer weather we’ll have to have a guac-off.

You’re on! My preferred guacamole is made with avocado, diced white onion, cilantro, and a paste of garlic, salt, lime juice and whatever peppers I have on hand (Habaneros are nice, but so are serranos or jalapenos. Even a bit of chipotle can work well). Adding fruit can be a nice way to go. I don’t always add tomato, but it’s great. surprisingly mango works well too. I also like to add a bit of fresh mint from time to time.

To me the garlic is essential, it’s the chiles that are optional.

Emily makes a non-garlic version of guacamole that is really good. In my opinion it’s just as good as the garlic version. I can’t recall the details of the recipe, but it makes up for the garlic in other ways.

In fact, I’m pretty sure you have sampled that recipe at least once. The fact that you don’t remember it may be a testament to the fact that a good non-garlic guacamole can in fact be created.

Yea Kebes, I think I have had her guacamole. I’m always so confuzzled by her no-garlic ever-in-anything-at-all-no-matter-what restriction that I may have had difficulty encoding new memories. I’m crying for her right now.

Thank you AL for bringing us the air of dignity that this site was lacking.

But, I do agree that I’m having trouble with my food photography. When I’m taking these pictures I’m trying to photograph the constituents of the recipe, and nothing else. Looking at unadorned meat isn’t all that appealing, and neither is a chunky sauce. But I don’t want to take potentially more attractive pictures of a whole meal, because it may not all be from The Book.

Beyond that I don’t know much about photography, and I’m only now starting to read up how to best take photos of food. Apparantly the techniques that work well for highlighting how cute your cat is doesn’t translate to making guacamole look nice.

KC, you are inordinately obsessed with garlic. I’ve had plenty of recipes with garlic and then had the Emily safe version and I can never tell the damn difference. Granted I don’t have the most discerning palate, but you must agree you are particularly garlic-centric.

KC, food photography is notoriously difficult. Go to any food court and look at the pictures they have posted. Many of them are awful and really unappetizing.

Since I know what model of camera you have, one of my suggestions would be to play with the macro mode a bit. By getting an up-close shot in macro mode, you can make it so that only a small amount of the food is in-focus, whereas the background (and some parts of the dish) are intentionally out-of-focus. I personally really like this kind of photo, and I think it works well with food since it allows you to see some of the texture in crisp detail, but prevents you from seeing every gory detail, which in a static photo frequently makes things look disgusting.

Apparently the advice of professional advertisers is to make sure food is always moving. In static pictures this can be harder to do, but shots of the food while it is still sizzling or of sauces as they are being poured might be more effective.

Anyways, these are just random suggestions. Keep up the good work.

Nique: Yes, I do agree that garlic makes life worth living for me. It’s my go to, most used, most loved, and most reliable ingredient. I have no problem admitting that I see the world through garlic tinted glasses.

Kebes: I made the guacamole here twice, once early in the project, and once much more recently. I only discovered the macro mode a little while ago, and I’ve been playing with it. The first one looks pretty bad, but the photo posted with this entry is the second one that I took in macro mode. Maybe I need to change some options, because it seems that I end up getting pretty much everything in the frame in focus with this mode. My quest to become a better food photographer continues.

KC, I think your camera has both a “digital macro” and a “real macro” mode, and you should play with all combinations. The type of photo I’m talking about is where you switch to “real macro” mode and get really close, so that once the camera focuses, the depth-of-field becomes very small. Anyways, it’s something to play with.

Thanks! I’ll play with it. You may have to suffer through some of my experiments, but you wouldn’t like the site if it were too slick, right? right?

Comments are closed.