Gringos love guacamole. Actually, almost everyone in the United States loves guacamole. We consumes millions of pounds a year, in stripmall taquerias and sceney cantinas, rolled up in chain burritos and poured from a hermetically sealed bags purchased in supermarkets, as we have a God-given right to a margarita and chip firmly planted in mashed avocado. But during the recent Mexican fascination, the simple crush of avocados, lime, and salt has been taken a tortuous route. These days, the dish acts as a canvas for artful chefs to roll out novel flavor combinations in attempts to capture new audiences, whether it’s through peas, pistachios, or pomegranate seeds.
When the spring pea guacamole ($15) hit the menu at ABC Cocina last year, it was well-received and relatively innocuous, though it set off an explosion of bastardized guac.
You’ll now find “Bazooka Limon” guacamole ($16) at Stephen Starr’s El Vez in Battery Park City, a version littered with roasted tomato, goat cheese, and toasted garlic that tastes like something that slid off of a panini press. Orale Mexican Kitchen, which took over the Cafe Frida aspace uptown, channels a Cobb salad in its “Blue Demon” guacamole, which is studded with chunks of cabrales blue cheese ($8).
On July 1, the Upper East Side’s Maya is hosting a Guacamole Festival, during which the restaurant will offer a “Baja Guacamole” that combines avocado with chopped kiwis, jicama, strawberry, and mango, and a “Pacific Guacamole” with grilled beets, walnuts, queso fresco, and orange. That’s in addition to the bacon or spicy crab guacamole already on the menu ($14 to $18).
These ill-conceived appetizers recall our fling with Jello in the 1950s, when we suspended disparate ingredients in gelatin and called it salad. We’re all for ingenuity, but guacamole just doesn’t need any.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.