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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Truck Guacamole

Janet and I love Mexican food.  Some we like better than others but you can hardly find anything that we don’t love.  I suspect that my favorite is really Tex/Mex, but I love fajitas.  I make good fajitas (not as often as I did when the “children” were at home but I have also made fajitas for my departmental dinners (I also make a really interesting Taco salad.)   We have a favorite place to eat here called El Sombrero.  We we eat there so often that Janet gets a little disturbed when her favorite waiter is not on duty.

One of Janet’s current favorites is called Caldo de Pollo, which means (if my dictionary is right) Pot of Chicken.  It is a wonderful chicken soup with almost half a pound of chicken in a delicious broth, a little bit of rice lots of good vegetables, a half of a lime and one corn tortilla for dipping.   I don’t often order it, but I finish hers with enthusiasm  (she eats a lot less since her aortic aneurysm).  We both eat almost anything except guacamole.  I eat guacamole, but I think Janet lost interest when the kids were still young, and guacamole  resembled –to her- diaper contents and she was never really able to overcome that image.  I have always been happy to scarf the guacamole off her plate and add it to whatever I have ordered so that the world stays in balance.  Somehow her lack of enthusiasm for guacamole has extended into a lack of enthusiasm for avocados. About the only real use for an avocado in our house was the occasional growing of a plant from seed for a children’s school project.

Last week, Janet found, what she thought would be a wonderful recipe for enchiladas and we went to the store to buy all of the appropriate ingredients.  I was a little surprised when my list included an avocado.  What I don’t know about buying a good avocado would fill books.  I went to the box of avocados at the store and asked how I could identify a good avocado and was told to squeeze them and get one that had some softness.  You might as well squeeze granite.  There was no softness, so I just bought an avocado. 

The enchiladas were wonderful, just the right amount of heat and flavor, and they were yummy.  I discovered early that I was not going to make guacamole.  The best I could do was to make slices and segment them, and the only weakness in the entire dish was the crunchy avocado.

I couldn’t help thinking about my most vivid previous experience with avocados.   When Hurricane Andrew (I think it was Andrew) happened down in Florida about ten of the men from our little congregation packed up and went to Florida to  help people get things cleared up and livable again.  Altogether from our church (from about three states) we had between three and five thousand men go down there.  We had been told to bring camping gear because we would be out in the open.  They (I am not sure who “they” were) put us in the high school football stadium, and assigned us to various parts of town so that we wouldn’t be running into and over each other.  The entrance to the football stadium was through an avocado grove wherein the wind had blown the avocados onto the ground.  When we entered the stadium the road was covered, about a foot deep, with a combination of whole   and  smooshed avocados.  It was as slippery and treacherous as any  ice and slush covered road in Colorado.  By evening, when every one was in the stadium getting ready for bed there were two unifying phenomena.  Someone had set up a “soup kitchen” at one edge of the stadium and was serving a delicious bean soup to all comers, and everyone—I mean EVERYONE had feet covered with squashed avocado mush.  We generally came to refer to it as Truck Guacamole.

After three days of going in and out, tearing the roofs of houses and replacing them with plywood, OSB, tar paper and shingles, we had done lots of good work, and there were traces of truck guacamole almost everywhere.  With my neuropathy, others tried to keep me from climbing ladders and going up on roofs so I became a major supply wagon with a pick-up that belonged to someone with red hair  I made trips so every open lumber yard and building supply in town to pick up lumber, nails, tar, tar paper and all the various supplies that were needed, and no matter how carefully I wiped my feet and cleaned my shoes I left truck guacamole traces everywhere.

I should mention here, that this was my first experience with Home Depot.  I have read in various blogs vast condemnation  of the big box stores including Home Depot, but in Homestead, most of the local lumber yards and supply companies had inflated the cost of repair supplies, but Home Depot was selling them at cost.  That kind of big box store I can, and do support.  Of course most of my supplies came from semi truck load of supplies that had been sent by our church (and some other churches and civic groups into the area, but I really appreciated Home Depot because most of the stuff I picked up there were paid for with my credit card.

In time “someone” sent in a back hoe and plowed the truck guacamole off the road, but this resulted in piles of avocado on the sides of the road, somewhat like the piles of snow next to roads in Winter states.  The difference was that truck guacamole, sitting in the sun for several days acquires a fragrance not totally unlike a cattle feedlot.  I confess that, for awhile, the memory of that fragrance affected my enthusiasm for restaurant guacamole.  All in all, it was a wonderful experience.  I have never been more tired or dirtier (they did allow us to use the showers in the football stadium, but they were crowded and the lines were long.  The eight hour drive home was made more pleasant when one of the Shoneys along the line, recognizing where we had come from, allowed us to partake of their breakfast buffet (which was wonderful and well appreciated.)

Still and all, and have trouble understanding why my avocado was still crunchy, when I didn’t run across ANY crunchy avocado in Florida.


At 10:05 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I eat avocados whenever I can get them which is six months of California avos and six months of Chilean avos. But the only time I make guacamole is if the avos are over-ripe. A perfectly ripe avo should be fairly firm but give slightly to light pressure.

You're lucky you have a decent Mexican restaurant. We have four in town and they all stink. Luckily Andy cooks great Tex/Mex and I cook San Francisco style Mex.

BTW I love Home Depot but we don't have one here.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Ed said...

I thought this story was going to tell me how you made guacamole for hundreds of helpers in the stadium to go along with the bean soup.

We can't get decent avocados around here. They pick them so green that they are rock hard like yours was. If we buy them, we have to let them sit around forever to soften up first before using them.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Ed said...

I forgot to mention that I'm lucky with the local Maharishi Meditation cult that lives here in town. With them, they have brought four excellent Mexican restaurants, two Indian, two Thai, one French, one Turkish, several Chinese and a few other restaurants of mixed ethnicity. All this in a town of just 10,000 souls.

At 5:02 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

I ADORE guacamole. I have two MASSIVE avocado trees and if you write to me and give me your address, I will send you guys some. I am TERRIBLE about remembering to check my blog email, so when you send me the email, pop into my blog and tell me you have. Its saurblog at hotmail dot com.


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