Once upon a time, sure as you are born, some dingus was all, “Onions?!?! In your guacamole?!?! You motherfuckers!”
A thing you become familiar with, if you write about food on the internet, is that unless you are an actual elephant cactus wearing a Stetson 10-gallon hat and writing from the Sonoran Desert, you essentially cannot even mention Southwestern/Tex-Mex/Mexican food preparations or ingredients in your writing without summoning as if by dark magic a flood of haughty Southwest/West Coast transplants accusing you of clueless, effete dilettantism. Hell, even if you are an actual sentient food-writing cactus in a Stetson 10-gallon hat writing from the Sonoran Desert, some eye-rolling Brooklyn shithead whose entire claim to shit-kickin’ All the Pretty Horses-protagonist west-Texas vaquero authenticity was steeped into him in the eighth-grade spring break he spent visiting Aunt Margaret in fucking Fort Worth will point out that you are growing next to the wrong dried-up arroyo, the one where the cacti don’t know shit about guacamole. It’s a performance, and an embarrassing one, for, God, so many reasons.
The New York Times published a recipe for guacamole with green peas in it. Not to insist that all guacamole must contain peas forever; not to say that people who have made guacamole without peas are dirty heathen swine; not to assert that pea-free guacamoles are inadequate. To suggest a fun variation on a tasty foodstuff. Hey, we think if you try adding some peas to your guacamole, you’ll like it. This has occasioned just such a performance, from too many corners of Twitter to call out here. Swooning and fainting and rending garments. Because somebody said that guacamole with peas in it tastes good.
This is dumb. Guacamole is mashed avocado dip. If it tastes good, it is made correctly.
Commonly, guacamole is made with onion, chili peppers, citrus juice, and salt; these came to be familiar guacamole ingredients not because they are right, but because they were available in the area of guacamole’s origin. If ancient Aztec guacamole happened not to contain peas, that is because there were no peas around. In the ancient Levant, they didn’t have avocados or chili peppers or the Aztec language, so they made their guacamole with cooked garbanzo beans and tahini and called it “hummus.”
When guacamole spread to other parts of the world, the familiar ingredients came to be thought of as the right ones because adding them to guacamole made it taste like guacamole made in Mexico. If your favorite guacamole recipe contains those familiar ingredients, that is fine. Make the guacamole that tastes best to you, because its only purpose is to taste good to the people who will be eating it. If it contains peas, that is fine. It is mashed avocado dip; the right way to make it is so it tastes good.
My guacamole is fairly basic—four avocados, a small fistful of finely chopped cilantro leaves, maybe a big tablespoon or so of minced white onion, some minced fresh jalapeño (or good cayenne powder if I’m feeling lazy), a big squeeze of lime juice, sea salt—because I am fanatical about avocados and only want enough accompaniment to flatter (and not compete with) them. But, I have had good-tasting guacamoles that contained: garlic, shallot, mint, basil, yogurt, sour cream, mango, corn, tomato, pineapple, lemon zest, olive oil, queso blanco, chipotle pepper, and more. A Guyanan coworker of mine once brought to an office potluck a bowl of guacamole that contained enough Scotch bonnet peppers to sizzle a fucking tunnel through the bowels of the earth so that we could deliver a serving of it to people on the far side, and it was delicious, even if a single bite of it prevented me from being able to taste anything else for the entire rest of the day. All of these guacamoles were fine, because they tasted good, which is guacamole’s only job, because it is food and not a fucking Republic of Texas flag.
I probably won’t add peas to my regular guacamole preparation, because I don’t think my guacamole preparation needs anything added to it; when I want guacamole, the specific taste I want is the taste of my guacamole. If you want to add peas to your guacamole, add peas to it. If you want to add pistachios to it, add pistachios to it. If you want to add a bucket of burnt hair to it, I mean I probably will pass on having some, but: do what you want. If the people who will be eating it enjoy doing so, it is good and correct guacamole.
Here’s what to keep out of your guacamole: the opinions and judgments and performative populism of food-scared internet weenies.
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