Saturday, 9 November 2013

Giving Soap A Chance

Do you like avocados? I first encountered them as a child during a brief stint in the UK several years ago. The buttery texture did not appeal to my childhood tastes. It reminded me of soap. More specifically, it reminded me of the squishy mess that soap becomes when left too long in water. If you have ever struggled with the seemingly easy task of peeling and slicing a ripe avocado, you might agree with me. 

My brother tells me that I have a worrying tendency to distort childhood memories. Apparently, he was not quite the wild, pesky younger sibling who appears frequently in my film reel of childhood memories. Maybe there is some truth to what he says, for I certainly did distort my memory of avocados. For many years, based on our brief interaction, I rather unfairly associated the fruit with soap not just in texture but also in taste. This is not to say that soap was ever a dietary staple in our household, but I did have a sense of what soap might taste like if I were ever to nibble on a bar of the stuff.  

Avocados being rare and exotic in India, I hardly ever bumped into them after we returned to India. I saw them every now and then, in their individually packed glory, peeking out of wooden boxes, as we walked past posh fruit stores in Delhi's expat friendly Khan Market. It was not until years later, when I moved abroad, that I started coming across them more frequently. By this time, I was willing to reconsider my childhood food hangups and was much more open to exploring unfamiliar tastes. Even if it meant giving soap a chance. 

In the years that have followed, I have never fully overcome my disdain for the fruit in its raw form. Mashed into a chunky guacamole though, it is one of my favourite things on a brunch menu. I forget the first time I made my acquaintance with guacamole, but I have been a woman in love since. I order it every time I am in a Mexican restaurant, and if I can help it, in every other type of restaurant too. Do you have strong feelings for guacamole too - good, bad or ugly? 

Although you can find prepackaged guacamole in every US supermarket, like all other types of prepackaged food, it comes nowhere close to the real stuff. The best things about a good guacamole - soft chunks of tomato, bits of pungent red onion, and an undertone of lime and garlic - are typically missing in the prepackaged versions. I had to come up with a homemade version of course. 
Photo credit: Uttara Gharpure

I am particularly happy this afternoon, having tucked into a hearty homemade brunch with guacamole starring in an "item number" (apologies, Bollywood illiterates). I followed Alton Brown's recipe for guacamole on Food Network, but only loosely. I had no jalapenos or cilantro, so I left them out, ruling out a trip to the grocery store on account of the nippy weather in Cambridge today. I would advise you to play with the measurements for salt, lemon juice, cumin and cayenne, depending on your tastes. I also added a pinch of sugar and a few drops of olive oil, but I am certain that you could leave them out with fairly happy results. 

Regardless of how you choose to adapt this recipe, I urge you to try it. If my long association with avocados has taught me anything, it is that everything (and of course, everyone) deserves a chance. Even soap.   

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