Monday, 4 April 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.


I am most Monday-ish. I managed to bash out 798 not altogether convincing words of book, and do some reading, but my brain feels as if it is in slow motion. I find myself frowning and squinting. I have a faint hamster sense that I am running very fast on my little wheel, but not actually getting anywhere.

In order to pull myself out of the Monday rut, I decided to make guacamole. I do have this quite odd magical thinking notion that food can affect states of mind. (My father believes this about alcohol: champagne to combat melancholy; brandy for shock, obviously; Guinness for strength.) So something with the zing of lemon and the whack of chilli must do the trick.

I rather hesitate to give you the recipe. You were not born yesterday. You all know how to mash an avocado. One of the things I like least about certain cookery writers is that they treat one like a slightly stupid nine-year-old. There is always the danger of sounding horridly patronising. Yes, dear, use a fork.

On the other hand, since there are so many versions, you might like mine. You may regard it as heresy, in which case I apologise. I discover that, quite without meaning to, I have been mildly controversial. After making the guacamole, I had a quick look on the Google to see if there was any such thing as the definitive version. Turns out there is not. Tomatoes and coriander are optional. Most people use onion, but there is a debate over white vs red. There is a small lobby for the spring onion. (Don't like the sound of that myself.) Garlic seems a matter of taste. But what no one at all mentions is the addition of finely diced red pepper, which is what I have just used. I don't want to be vulgar, but I found it inspired. I threw it in because there was one sitting there, on the side, and for some reason I had had enough tomatoes. I wanted something red. It turned out gloriously, mostly because of the texture: the clean, sharp crunch worked well with the soft mush of the avocado. I just hope that any Mexican readers will not now picket the blog in protest.

Anyway, this is what I did:

Took two fat Haas avocados and smushed them up with a fork. Added: a big pinch of Maldon salt. I don't want to sound like a ghastly food snob, but I think Maldon is vital here. Rock salt is too rocky; table salt is too bitter and bitty. For flavour and flake, Maldon is the only one. Also, you need slightly more salt than you might imagine. I'm not sure why. I think possibly because avocados are quite bland, and also because you are about to use lemon juice, which counteracts saltiness.

So, then I added the juice of a whole lemon. This is a matter of taste. I like a lot of citrus. You may not. Perhaps start out with half a lemon and then see how you go. Oh, and I know it should really be lime, which is definitely better, but this is the North East of Scotland, and I had no limes. Lemon is perfectly fine as a substitute.

I very finely diced a red pepper, and threw that in. I took one small clove of garlic, and chopped it up as delicately as I could, and added that. I had no coriander, so I put in a little chopped basil. A dash of olive oil, a pinch of dried chilli, and the thing was done. For best results, I would recommend fresh chilli, very, very thinly sliced, but I had none, so had to make do and mend. Again, the amount of chilli is up to you. I like things spicy, so I put in quite a lot.

And there you are. Something to wake you up on a slow Monday afternoon.

Pictures today appear to be mostly of daffodils. They have suddenly appeared in the last two or three days, and they shout The Coming of Spring like nothing else:







I wish I could say that the dogs just went and lay down amongst the daffs, like Ferdinand the Bull, but in fact I made them pose there, which is why they have rather resigned looks on their faces. If they could think, which of course they cannot because they are dogs, they would be thinking something like - let's just humour the old girl:



Sometimes, I just like taking pictures of kitchen implements:




I do think that old-fashioned type of lemon squeezer is one of the most perfect pieces of design ever made. It is almost radically simple, utterly useful and completely beautiful. It always works, it takes up very little space, it is pleasingly sturdy. It costs two pounds. Every time I use it, it gives me pleasure.

Here was the guacamole, after all that. It never looks terribly beautiful, being an unapologetic green mush, but oh, oh, the taste:





  1. Do try spring onion. I think it works well and provides some crunch in the same way the red pepper does. Not tried red peppers myself as it is unlikely that they survive the children's raids on the fridge whereas so ring onions......

  2. Wont comment on the guacamole because I would not know about that but the dogs and daffodils. Ahhhh! so very nice.

  3. I know what I'm making for lunch, suddenly (our version is finely chopped shallot, two very thinly sliced serranos-- easy to come by in Texas, of course-- and salt and a squeeze of lime). If you ever need an easy comfort snack, one of the best things I ever learned from the my lovely Chilean ex-husband was their simple but delicious way of doing avocado: mashed with salt and pepper and spread on pieces of baguette or, really, any kind of bread.

  4. I think red pepper is a brilliant idea, and I've never contemplated it myself but now that you mention it - YES! I agree with Betty M about spring onions, which I usually use myself (just one or two) as well as a small (always red) onion.
    I love the photos. Backwards in high heels, clutching a mixing bowl filled with guacamole.

  5. I know just what you mean about the daffodils - I'm in Cumbria so we've had ours for a few days now, but the first morning I drove along my regular route and saw the blissful explosion of yellow (I do like yellow), I had to say 'Wow!' out loud.
    I know your village very well - having spent most of my childhood summers there many centuries ago, with my Aunt who was the local Postmistress and my Uncle who was Station master at another nearby village. They were Victorian-stern but they happily let me go out to play every morning never expecting to see me again till teatime - and my Uncle taught me to ride a big old bike on that glorious village green, which probably isn't anything like as big in reality as it is in my memory!

  6. How can a collage of the ingredients for guacamole be a thing of artistic delight? Yet it is. The colours are entrancing. Together with the luminous quality of the shouting daffodils, it's like a glorious chucking of random primary paint colours.

    I hesitate to post a correction to my favourite writer, but my husband used to minister in a village very near the home of said condiment, so I feel obliged to point out that it is MaldOn salt. And very fine it is too: superior to any other kind.

  7. Betty M - shall take yr good advice.

    Mystica - so glad you liked dogs and daffs.

    Ellie - you are so glamorous to have a Chilean ex. :)

    Lillyanne - yes, yes, hurrah for heels and guacamole!

    Cassie - THANK YOU. Am idiot. How can I have been using something for twenty years and NOT KNOW HOW TO SPELL IT? And I am always so rude about writers who make mistakes in spelling and grammar. Serves me right. Please never hesitate; always correct. You are saving me acres of shame.

  8. Gilly F - how amazing. And your memory of the village green is correct. It is gloriously huge, and most unusual for this part of the world. Funnily enough, I have had a few happy summer holidays in Cumbria. :)

  9. Colby Kavanagh4 April 2011 at 21:14

    Guacamole is also enhanced with a bit, maybe 1/2 teaspoon, ground cumin.

  10. Colby - love the sound of that. Rather excited as it seems I have started a special guacamole FORUM. :)

  11. Daffodils are almost done here; the Narcissus are coming up. Last week the nearby forest was carpeted with those tiny white Wood Anenomes.
    This is absolutely my favorite time of the year: green, lush, renewal.

    Next sister in Miami used to have an avocado tree which produced fruit you needed two hands to carry. And she hated avocados (I used to eat my weight in them every visit!). Told her to make a paste of them and rub it on her face as a mask. Meant to be excellent for your skin.
    Gotta go get some; your photos and description have me salivating...

  12. I have to know, how did you eat the guacamole? We eat it on crispy tortilla chips here..?

  13. Am making huge amounts of guacamole myself at the moment, if only to use up the other half once Jr has had his [try not to gack] avocado and banana mash which he sometimes has on toast - guacanana perhaps... Anyway yes yes yes to the red pepper, I quite see the point thereof. But would still use limes. But when in times of need, Waitrose do a very fine Jif-esque lime thingy. Useful

  14. Dear Tania, can you do a book of recipes written like this please? xx


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