Thursday 11 November 2010

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

I love avocadoes. And now my son does, too, which fills my heart with glee. It is said that if you were to be stranded on an island and you had the opportunity to choose just one kind of food that you could eat every day in order to survive, avocado would be the most appropriate and healthiest option. It contains a high percentage of monounsaturated fat, vitamins B, E and K and fibre.

In Cuba we have a funny way of finding out whether to use an avocado for salad or dip/paste. We shake the fruit close to our ear (cue puzzling looks from other customers in my local supermarket) and if we hear the seed inside it moving, that means it can be added to any green salad you're preparing. We call that type of avocado, 'aguacate aguachento' (watery avocado). If the seed remains static, we press our fingers on the fruit skin instead to assess its ripeness. If they sink, then we go for the paste.

Guacamole is not very common in Cuba as it is in Mexico and other Latin countries in Central America. Hence my introduction to this dish came only when I was in my twenties, courtesy of a Mexican family who lived in Havana at the time and with which I was acquainted. I found their guacamole quite spicy for my taste, if truth be told, but after almost thirteen years in Britain where I've had th pleasure of occasionally tucking into Mexican food, I've grown accustomed to the hotness (as in spicy).

The recipe below is by Felicity Cloake, a writer specialising in food and drink. I have to admit that I don't include tomatoes when I make my guacamole, just try to keep it as simple as possible. Plus, I like using lemon juice as opposed to lime, or garlic dressing if I haven't got any lemons. This recipe is perfect as a light lunch on a rainy day, followed by some hot 'mate', drunk, preferably in a customised gourd. Just, you know, to keep things as Latin as possible.


1–3 fresh green chillies, depending on heat, and your taste, finely chopped
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
3 ripe avocados
1 ripe medium tomato, cut into 3mm dice
Juice of 1 lime

1. Put a teaspoon each of the chilli, onion and coriander into a pestle and mortar, along with a pinch of coarse salt, and grind to a paste.

2. Peel the avocados and remove the stone. Cut into cubes, then mash into a chunky paste, leaving some pieces intact.

3. Stir the chilli paste into the avocado, and then gently fold in the tomatoes and the rest of the onions, chilli and coriander. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Serve immediately, or cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate.

And if we're to keep things as Latin as possible, then it should follow that my first musical offering tonight has Latin written all over it. Late Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer joined forces with the British pop band, Gorillaz, and together they released this gem of a song. Full, like a ripe avocado.

To me, grinding the chilli, onions and coriander is like listening to Franz Ferdinand's guitars. The workout I get from combining those ingredients in a mortar is similar to the syncopated beat of the Scottish band. Marvellous.

Once my guacamole is ready, it's time to sit down, put my feet up and enjoy it. Just the way I enjoy how Caetano's voice sounds: mature, confident and serene. The water is boiling and pretty soon I'll have a gourd with steaming 'mate' in hand. Happy eating!

© 2010

Next Post: 'Birthday Post: Reflections and Music', to be published on Tuesday 16th November at 12:01am (GMT)


  1. My first exclamation was..mmmm..I do love recipe is similar to yours..and I thoroughly trust the talking seed!!
    Avocados aren't plentiful now..darn it..

  2. Yummmm. Love that grinding. Now I must have some fresh guacamole. Adding avocados to my list right now.

  3. Well this is about as perfect a post as I can imagine. I absolutely love anything with avacados as well as Ibrahim and Caetano. Franz Ferdinand is the only off note for me (not very Latin) but I chalk that up to your love of the eccentric. I always mix my guacamole with fresh tomato salsa and lemon juice. I actually live on guac on chips for much of the summer, much to the concern of my worry wort scorpio husband. (who celebrates on the same day as you!)

  4. I love avocadoes too! I like eating them but I also like mashing them up with coconut milk and making beauty mask out of them. It makes the hair and skin so silky!


  5. I used to live in a house that had an avocado tree in the back yard. Best avocados I ever tasted. The only problem was that my dog agreed with me and every time an avocado fell from the tree, it was a race between me and the dog as to who would get to the avocado first. The dog had good taste.

  6. I love this post -- the beauty of the music and the avocado -- perfect combination of sensuous life.

  7. Great recipe, great music- but one thing is missing - home made tortillas. I cheat and buy my hand made tortillas from a Mexican store a few blocks from my apartment, heat them up in a cast iron skillet and prepare for a gourmet treat. OH, and because I've lived in a Latino neighborhood for many years, I've gotten used to the heat so I also add a few more chili flakes.
    Es muy sobroso.

  8. Many thanks for your comments.

    Namas, yes, the tortillas! But then, again, that's a very Mexican thing. The only 'tortillas' we do in Cuba is the 'omelettes' variety. I was surprised when I came to live in the UK and people kept referring to those wraps as 'tortillas'. Cultural differences, I suppose.

    Jai, many, many years ago when I was younger and with an Afro, I used to wash my hair with avocado shampoo. Highly recommended. :-)

    Judith, you're so lucky! And so was your dog. I remember visiting my family in the countryside and being surrounded by avocado and mango trees.

    The talking seed! That's a good poet's take on it, Lyn.

    Flygirl, tell my fellow Scorpio that guac as dips with crisps is the dog's b......! :-D

    Thanks a lot for your lovely comments.

    Greetings from London.

  9. Cuban! Thank you for the feast, especially for Ferrer. This song is new to me.

    I didn't know how to judge avocados but have sniffed to judge fruits' ripeness--cantaloupe in particular. Sometimes a shock to fellow shoppers.

    Best regards from Boston on a warm fall day . . .

  10. Than ks for the guac recipe. And now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go dance for a bit :)

  11. I do love guacamole with everything. Must make some with this recipe. wv is zingiest, which seems apt..

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