Friday, October 26, 2012

A Brief Lesson On The History of Guacamole and Salsa

This weekend will be host to tons of parties, most of them being of the Halloween costume kind and some of the birthday variety like yours truly's.  With any kind of party, there are several factors to consider like the decorations and the perfect play list.  But one of the most important things to consider is what you'll be feeding your hungry guests to keep them from passing out on the dance floor.  You could opt for the sit down affair consisting of several laboured courses, but this weekend will probably have your guests party hopping so I wouldn't recommend that route.  Instead opt for a few things you can make ahead of time that are crowd pleasers.  My go to's are a giant bowl of salsa and guacamole.  Cool thing is that the ingredients are practically the same and they're both naturally vegan.  These two are so easy that I would be ashamed of anyone who took the Costco shortcut and bought the ready made stuff.  All you need is ripe avocados, tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, limes and salt.  For the salsa, omit the avocado. 

Since everything good is made to taste, I won't proceed with a recipe but rather a brief lesson on your staple ingredients. 

First is the avocado, or alligator pear, which is native to Central Mexico.  The word avocado comes from the Spanish aguacate, which in turn derives from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl.  I wish I could tell you what "part", if you will, the Nauhatl were referencing.  But as this is a PG blog, all I can say is google it (hilarious)!  Next we have tomato, whose name is also descendant from the Nahuatl.  They called it tomatl, which translates to fat water.  Tomatoes are from the Americas, possibly originating from the highlands of the occidental South American coast.  It's believed that they were first brought into popular culture after the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and took back a yellow tomato as a souvenir to the Spanish Royal court.  Therefore causing their widespread cultivation and use in Europe.  Texts dating back to 3000 B.C. show that onions most likely originated in Asia and were then taken to Greece and Egypt, then pretty much every part of the world after that.  Chili peppers also come from the Nahuatl word Chili.  Who would have guessed you were speaking so much Nahuatl all this time?  Fun fact, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion currently holds the Guinness world record as the hottest pepper at 2.0M SHU.  To give you an idea of how hot that is Habaneros, or Scotch Bonnets, aren't even in the top 5.  Cilantro, or coriander, has been around so long, that it has even been found in Tutankhamen's tomb.  Lime comes from the French and Arabic word Lim and is actually a fruit which was first grown commercially in Babylonia.  Lastly, salt, which is essential, in small quantities, for animal life.  Even as far back as 6050 B.C., our Neolithic ancestors were boiling water from a salt-water spring in order to extract.  Salt is such an important ingredient that when the British placed a "salt tax" in India, Mahatma Gandhi and at least 100,000 people marched to the sea in protest and made their own salt.
Now you have plenty of historical tidbits to use as ice-breakers, you're welcome.

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