I was given some very good advice recently, and whether related to your current friends, your living situation, your job, your finances, or something else, it applies: take what you have right now and learn everything you can from it.
It’s maybe not a very new idea, but its impact is undeniable, even with something simple – like, say, an avocado.
I hated the idea of an avocado when I was little – similar to the way I hated the idea of tomatoes and onions and certain types of cheese.
But finally, at some point, I tried some guacamole with tortilla chips.
And then, later, I had some sliced avocado on a sandwich. Eventually I encountered it in some type of sushi, and though the process had been very gradual, I was sold.
A friend and I were talking about our history with avocados recently, and I took this as a sign that I should buy some.
I purchased three. There was no rhyme or reason behind the number; I don’t even think there was a special sale going on.
I took them, threw them in a plastic bag and into my cart, and skirted the remainder of the produce section.
Later, at home, I tried to cut into one, planning to recreate the dip that I’d had many times at On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, made right in front of me at the table.
And here’s where the learning began, before I even got started with my experiments to craft the perfect recipe – if the avocado feels firm to the touch, it’s not ripe yet. And it won’t continue to ripen if you cut the peel.
Even though I’d grown to love avocados at this point, I wasn’t exactly an expert at buying them, and I hadn’t taken the time to consider their ripeness at the store. Whoops.
Over a week went by with me squeezing the fruit every time I’d pass them on the counter, trying to determine if they were finally soft with something close to the spreadable consistency I’d seen in real-life demonstrations at the restaurant, alongside a bowl of chips.
When they were, with the skin giving a little when I pushed, I sliced them in half lengthwise, spooned out the pits, and scooped out bright green flesh that was as soft as butter that’s been sitting on the counter.
The resulting guacamole was fine – good, even – a simple blend of tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and jalapeno.
It even made an impromptu addition to a dinner party spread, after it had darkened a little and we stirred it together to make it seem fresher. But I didn’t have the proportions quite right, and it still needed a little tinkering.
The brilliance of tableside guacamole service dawned on me at this point – the freshest possible avocado dip is always best, served and eaten right away, before it has time to oxidize.
The thing about learning to cook is that it’s an awful lot like learning anything else – you gather information, you test, you try. But in this case, there’s one chief advantage: you get to eat it all in the end.
After a few more attempts, here’s the best version I’ve come up with. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you can even convince some avocado-haters to change their minds!