Guacamole is one of those dishes that will change dramatically from region to region.  When I was 19, I worked as a breakfast and a prep cook at Harvey’s Casino in Lake Tahoe.  It was rarely slow, but when it was, I would whip up my older brother’s recipe for guacamole. One day the head chef found my stash in the walk-in-cooler and instead of reprimanding me, complimented me on my recipe. He told me all over Mexico recipes for guacamole will differ widely. He preferred his wife’s because in her village it was common to add boiled potato. I still haven’t tried that version!

Having grown up largely in New Jersey and New York, I had no experience with guacamole.  I had only seen avocado pits sitting in glasses of water in the kitchen windows of a friend or neighbor.  It’s still a fresh memory. I doubt anyone had the ability or patience to turn those pits into trees and the climate was wrong.

Until a brief stay with my brother in Mill Valley, I didn’t know how good avocados tasted and how much better they were whipped up as guacamole and slathered on a salty tortilla chip. It was also the first time I had had a tortilla chip.  Don’t laugh, it’s true; the world was a smaller place back then.

Needless to say, I was hooked and it was love at first bite.

I have modified my brother’s recipe over the past decades and have come to realize you can put almost anything in guacamole as long as you add salt, citrus and something spicy.

Below is my go-to recipe for potlucks and occasions outside the house.  What’s different about my guacamole is I never use garlic, which I love, but don’t see a place for it in guacamole. I also never use cilantro; occasionally use lime and never black pepper.  Lemon is a better citrus option because it offers a fresher, more uplifting taste. Black pepper is just too heavy in my opinion.

My recipe has balance and allows the natural flavor of the avocados to be enhanced and not masked.

I do occasionally add corn, but I am allergic so it’s been sidelined. Fresh corn works very well in guacamole and is a common ingredient in some regions’ recipes.

Serves 8

always start with one large Haas avocado per person as an appetizer portion.

*Coarsely chopped onion. I usually use 1/2 each of a large white and red onion per 8 avocados. Traditional Mexican cooking, I have learned, does not use brown onions.

*1 large ripe, yet firm, tomato or a large hand full of cherry tomatoes chopped into coarse bits.

*1-1 1/2 large, ripe lemons squeezed to taste.

* 1 jalapeno from brine chopped very thinly.

* 1 fresh jalapeno chopped very thinly.

* Salt to taste

* Cayenne pepper to taste

* Tabasco Sauce – 6 hearty shakes (Secret ingredient from my brother’s recipe.)

* Trader Joe’s Organic White Tortilla Chips.

How much salt, cayenne and Tabasco Sauce to add is a very individual thing. Somehow it works out when I lightly sprinkle the entire top of the bowl with salt and do the same with cayenne.

I hope you like it, try it and let me know how it turned out.