Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Guacamole and refried beans: my comfort food

Bean burritos with guacamole, refried beans, Monterey jack cheese, and radicchio

Refried beans are my mashed potatoes. And fresh guacamole is balm for the soul. This morning Jasper woke up with a fever and just nursed and dozed all morning long. So this set the tone for the day -- slow, sluggish, sleepy. That plus the heat made me even less ambitious than usual. Even though I wasn't the one with a fever, I felt like something easy and soothing. And we keep reading Jasper's book, Hola Jalapeno, a book about Mexican food that always makes me hungry ("senorita quesadilla, cheese is melting out your end...").

So what I really wanted was my mother's plain old mashed pinto beans. But I didn't feel like making them myself and the coop had only Amy's Organic Refried Black Beans, which are made with roasted peppers and other interlopers. Also, it's vegetarian, so you know there's no lard in there. Oh well, it would have to do. I also got Monterey jack cheese, the official cheese of Americanized Mexican food, also the namesake of my grandmother's hometown in Mexico. And I used the leftover radicchio just because it was in the refrigerator growing old.

And now the guacamole. A man I once worked for, who grew up in Jersey, told me that the secret to good guacamole is "really ripe avocados!" The doofus. That's like saying the secret to hot cocoa is HEATED milk. No, really ripe avocado is a given. Here are the two secrets to good guacamole. First, it's grinding the diced onion and cilantro together in a molcajete and tejolote (or a mortar and pestle). Second, adding lime juice. So for today's guacamole I started by mashing three avocados with a fork in a bowl. Then I ground 1/4 cup diced onion with 1/4 cup cilantro (if I'd remembered to buy a jalapeno, I would have ground it as well). I added this to the mixture along with the juice of one lime and about 2t kosher salt and mashed it all together with the fork. Then I took 1/2 a tomato, diced that, and folded it in. Really, I don't even think you need the tomato. I like my guacamole well mixed rather than chunky, but that's a personal preference probably informed by my Guadalajara-born father's tastes, as he is the one who taught me how to make guacamole.

A few more notes on guacamole. I never say "guac." When people say "guac" I picture a drunk frat boy with an oversized velvet sombrero. Have some dignity. And you pronounce the "g" -- it's not "wakamolay." My first horrifying food experience in New York was when I attended a reception at the home of one of my graduate school professors. She made guacamole by whipping avocado with lots of sour cream -- and that's it. Eccchhh!

Yesterday I was too exhausted to post. We biked over to the Red Hook swimming pool and then spent the late afternoon tooling around the waterfront, which is being renovated for, among other things, a Fresh Fields. Exciting days are in store for us. They're also putting in residential units in some of the gorgeous warehouses, but public transportation to that neck of the woods is abysmal. We did find Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies, made from freshly-squeezed key limes. I had a tart dipped in chocolate and frozen, just the thing! By the time we got home I was almost ready to just order takeout. But I summoned my last few kilowatts to poach some broccoli. Lane grilled the chicken I'd had marinating in olive oil and rosemary. I'd also stuffed rosemary under the skin. And that was yesterday. I sure hope my little boy gets over his fever soon. Poor noodle.

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