Archive for October, 2013

The history of Guacamole is both short and long.

The Aztecs invented it.

History lesson over.

And since the Aztecs were happily living and eating guacamole in Mexico long before the Spanish swooped in on them in the 1500’s, Guacamole’s been around a long, long time.

Anyone who’s ever seen Guacamole turn brown and crusty at a party has reason to be afraid of it.  And let’s face it; the Avocado in its full fruit form is standoffish, even scary. Bumpy, green and black on the outside, it’s the bad apple of the fruit basket.  Unripe, they’re hard and horrible.  Overripe, they are the stuff of science fiction with the pale green flesh blighted with brown spots and stringy and the skin easily dented.

If an Avocado was a 5th grader, it would be the reason the teacher fears turning his/her back to the class.

And because of their look, Avocados are slighted.  Have you ever seen an avocado image on a slot machine? Cherries, apples, lemons, sure.  Avocados?  Never.

Nobody is the avocado of your eye.  You’ll never say, “She’s an avocado!” as a compliment.

English: A seedless avocado, or cuke, growing ...

Location: San Pablo Huitzo, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in New York State so Avocados didn’t grow on trees, you know.  I knew about apples and pears. I understood strawberries and blueberries and berries of all persuasions.  I don’t remember when I first encountered the avocado but I know I was suspicious. Too wary to try it and I admit without any avocado knowledge, I was a hater.

Until a frostbite cold, stark and beautiful experience in Uyuni, Bolivia, brought me to the light.

Uyuni is possibly the ickiest city in Bolivia but also home to the largest salt flat in the world (Salar du Uyuni).  A salt lake covered much of Bolivia in Prehistoric times. Today, what remains is about 10,000 square kilometers of desolate, stunning salt desert.

Pre-warned about the ickiness of Uyuni, we booked a night bus from La Paz and planned a single day to see the flats, getting out-of-town that same night to head toward Tupiza (the town near where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are rumored to have met their maker).

I boarded the bus, my backpack deflated since I was wearing every possible layer.  Without heat on the bus  I was grateful when the combined body heat of the passengers warmed the air. The windows fogged but it didn’t matter since it was too dark to take in any view.

The trip lasted hours and hours and I was awake, sleep hard to latch on to, feeling the bus rumble on the road and feeling tortured by the sounds of snoring all around me.  Sleep eventually won out as the sun crept up on the horizon.  I drifted, only to jump up moments later when a drop of water fell on my forehead. Then another hit my nose and yet another dropped on my glasses and ran down the lens.

The windows were all closed and now streaked with water on the inside. The scent on the bus was Ode De Stale Locker Room and the ceiling was covered with droplets, waiting to pull away from the metal surface and fall on my face.

The breath we blew out during the night, transformed and collected on the ceiling was raining down on us.

I was trapped in a terrarium.

We weren’t even there yet and it was already icky. I was cold and worn through and really grossed out. And when we finally arrived, the driver parked and kept the bus doors locked with us inside. It wasn’t quite light and the streets were too dangerous to allow us to wander.

But it was all worth it.

Salar du Uyuni is isolated, unforgiving and beautiful. Just ask these guys:

It is also white crystals that run all the way up to the horizon.

We drove on it, walked on it and then ate it for lunch. Our guide, pulled white bread flour-dusted rolls from his pack, and with a jackknife, cut tomato and avocado into open rolls. Then he reached down, took a pinch of salt from the ground next to his boot, sprinkled it into the sandwich and handed it to me.

I ate two.

And I still remember that lunch as one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

The most spectacular moment of the day was sunset. The white of the salt bed held and reflected the colors of the sky and sometimes even seemed to be directing the show – as the bed turned pink, the sky followed.

I left Uyuni nourished, body and soul, by the experience and by the avocado.

I will never repeat the trip to Salar du Uyuni but I get to go back to the avocado over and over again.  I rarely slice it into a sandwich since my preferred avocado delivery system is Guacamole.

Aztecs believed Guacamole to be an aphrodisiac. I will leave you to test that theory on your own.  It clearly lights a pleasure center in my brain – I think if it as Guacrackole or Crackamole or I just think about it all the time.  Science today tells us the avocado is just plain good fat, good stuff, good for you.

Since Guacamole is avocado mixed with anything, recipes vary. I like the simple set up that lets the ingredients stand out.

My guacamole/guacrackole/crackamole recipe is:

  • 2 Avocados, mashed but chunky
  • 1 medium onion, white, chopped, about a cup
  • 1 medium tomato, juice and seeds removed, chopped
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Jalapeno to taste
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Liberal dash of love

– Mix but don’t mush!

– Eat fast so you don’t have to share!

And of course, have a margarita!

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I worried that our endlessly hard-working congress might grasp the import of issues before them, end the stalemate and open the government before I could write this blog post.

Silly me.

Would sober-minded people act to jeopardize our economy?  I think not.  So there must be a little something extra in the Congressional Water Cooler.

Is the 3 Martini Lunch back in vogue?  Is a drink hat, fitted with a donkey or elephant logo, one drink holder over each ear with straws part of the congressional orientation kit?  Do members who bother to show up for sessions have round robin tournaments of beer pong during filibusters?

So with Big Bird still safely locked behind the closed gates of the National Zoo, I have time to wonder: “What was Congress drinking when they decided it was a good idea to bring government functions to a screeching halt and what are they drinking now?”

I threw the question out to my trusty Twitter friends who, despite the multiple policy decisions they tackle in the course of a day, are reliable and responsive.

  • @Create_Daily says, “They were sipping a little too much Fishhouse Punch when they pulled the plug.”  Now he’s sure they’re “…drinking Pepto by the bottle.”
  • @mscharlies suggests, “Then: Mescal Now: Rye”
  • @margaretomara believes congress enjoyed, “Long Island Iced Tea (Parties): easy to overindulge, with potentially disastrous consequences.”
I’m so glad I asked because this is all starting to make sense to me! Picture all 535 members of congress with Long Island Iced Tea or Fishhouse Punch or Mescal in their drink hats (their choice, free country) on big decision days and then alternating between Pepto and Rye to treat the hangover.
  • ‏@WarrenBobrow1 throws his hands up and calls for “mint juleps for all!!!!”  (I think the julep might be more for us than congress though.)

There is one person who doesn’t think congressional decisions are flavored by alcohol. He doesn’t believe our elected officials are drinking at all. And while I don’t agree, I’m including his response because I believe in the integrity of Twitter Polls.  @MacCocktail says, “They’re smoking the crack rock! That’s what they’re doing!”

So come on, be truthful, how many of you have said the very same thing? Of course you say it in jest. Of course, nobody really thinks our elected officials use crack. (Marion Barry is old news and Toronto’s Mayor is obviously a Canadian.)  But it would be nice to come up with an explanation for continuous under-achieving.

Maybe our Congressmen and Senators should come hang out at Gran Electrica (5 Front Street, DUMBO, NYC).

Gran Electrica continues to over-achieve in margarita mixing and taco making. I’ve written about them before and along with members of the Independent Panel of Judges, keep going back for more. They have a back garden and on a recent fall day, I sat outside with The Panel and made friends with the people next to us. Even though we were years apart in age, miles apart in home geography and culturally mixed, we figured out how to bridge the divide between tables.

Gran Electrica - Decisions made, bridges build, margaritas drank

Gran Electrica – Decisions made, bridges built, margaritas drank

Thank you to all who took the time to respond to this Twitter Poll. I appreciate it!

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If you don’t write a post for five months, do you still have a blog?

The answer seems to be “Yes!” since wonderful, margarita-loving people around the globe clicked and read despite the lack of new content to beckon them and yesterday, the hit count on margagogo.com topped 3,000.  That my words live on in the face of my neglect is a gift, a miracle and a mystery and it has me pondering other life wonders.

And I mean the BIG stuff.  None of this stuff like, “Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?” or “Do bleached blondes pretend to have more fun?” For my first post since my last post, I’m delving deep into the mysteries of life.  Yes, I’m going there – wherever “there” is.

Wonder 1:  “The Blog is Back in Town” – Who knows this musical reference and why in the world did I choose it for this blog post title?  I don’t own an album by this band and have never downloaded a single.  But the song stuck in my head and now possibly stuck in yours too.

Wonder 2:  Why do songs get stuck in your head?  I don’t mean just the catchy Song-of-Summer.  Blurred Lines never registered for me.  (No offense to Robin Thicke who is surely capable of writing a catchy tune that will get stuck in heads everywhere.)  But random tunes burrow in and make a home.  My current musical backdrop for rainy days is Rise and Shine song:  “Noah, he built, he built and ark-y, ark-y, ark-y – So rise and shine and give God your glor-y, glor-y…” You get the idea.  The thing is, I probably haven’t heard that song since I went to Tuesday afternoon religious education when I was 8-years old.

Wonder 3:  Bacon.  Why is bacon universally loved?  (And I mean the cured meat, not Kevin Bacon though he has his own dedicated following.)  I’ve met a rare few who say they don’t eat bacon but I’ve never met anyone who says they don’t like bacon.  Bacon is the gateway meat for vegetarians who fall off the plant wagon.  People hate chocolate (huh?) and ice cream (what?) but put a little bacon in either and those same people salivate. It’s a mystery to me.

Wonder 4:  Golf. I don’t understand it. Why do people play this sport and how can networks justify putting in on television? Playing is an exercise in frustration and watching requires extraordinary mental toughness because it’s so boring.  I’m not the only one who thinks so – just ask the streaker who decided to brighten up the President’s Cup with a naked dash.

Wonder 5:  How does the Congressional Gym stay open when the government is closed?  If National Parks, the FDA, and the National Zoo closed, shouldn’t the gym shutter too?  Do congressional members need access to free treadmills so they can blow off steam while they’re blowing off the business of the country?  If they want to understand with their constituents, they should buy overpriced memberships to chain gyms that they’ll stop using after 60 days though they’ll continue monthly payments indefinitely.  They should also have similar health care to the rest of us.  I’d be fired for far lesser offenses than maneuvering the shut down of my company.

Wonder 6:  Avocado. How can an ugly, Seuss-ian orb hold so much creamy goodness? A fish oil substitute? Yes! The magic and soul of guacamole? Clearly.  More to come on the avocado. It deserves a dedicated post.  And the lovely avocado leads me to my next wonder …

Wonder 7:  Should pomegranate seeds be part of any guacamole recipe?  Ok, this is a clear continuation of Wonder 6 but this is the only Wonder I’m able to solve.  Pomegranate might be great for a lot of things. In fact, I hear it actually improves the power of sunscreen.  But as a component of guacamole?  No. The answer is no.  Uh-uh.  No way.  Not right.  Not Guacamole. I know this because I tested it at La Cenita, 409 W 14h St, NYC.

La Cenita is a new addition to the Meatpacking District and they put pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts in their guac. The pistachio nuts I like. I’m evolving to believe that pistachio or pine nuts should be included in almost everything. But I can’t work with pomegranate seeds. They add an unwelcome sweet surprise to guacamole, a near-perfect treat in its traditional form. I suggest you get the seeds on the side.


La Cenita has a street theme to it. They don’t have stools at the bar and they serve their chips in paper bags with the edges rolled down.  But the standing bar-flies pay around $15 per drink so the street theme “Park Avenue” and less “Calle en Mexico”.


The traditional margarita on their menu is made with grapefruit juice and the flavor is overpowering.  So if you like tequila more than grapefruit, I suggest you request your marg sans this citrus.

So far, La Cenita has pulled in 2.5 stars on Yelp and the universal theme is the food is ok and really expensive but you should go once and go to be seen. But when you do go, watch your wallet.

And so margagogo.com is back in town. I’ve got much to discuss, like romance novels, the avocado, things I’m grateful for (besides romance novels and avocados) and great places for hanging out and having a drink.

So please stay tuned and thank you for hanging with me through my long blog sabbatical.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the blog is back in town!

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