Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Price of Guacamole

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s, Mexican food wasn’t really a thing. Well, I guess it was a thing, but not a thing that I had any exposure to other than through an episode of The Odd Couple when Oscar ate tacos and aggravated his ulcer. It wasn’t until the early 90s when I was living in Manhattan that I tried Mexican food for the first time. There was—and according to Google, still is—a restaurant in the Village called Caliente Cab Co. that I ate at with friends a few times. I enjoyed it and thought it was quite exotic, but considered it the kind of place one would only eat at on special occasions. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I had Mexican food before I moved out to Arizona.

In Arizona, Mexican restaurants are ubiquitous—sort of like pizza joints in Brooklyn. “Exotic” is no longer the word I would use to describe Mexican food. We eat the stuff a couple of times a week, but only at a restaurant every other month or so. This, of course, means that Mexican food is on our regular menu at home. We do burritos, quesadillas, and of course, Oscar Madison’s favorite—tacos. We also do taco salad, which is essentially a taco in salad form. (Note: that last bit of clarification was for my New York readers, many of whom are not wise to the ways of Mexican food. I know that many of my Arizona readers likely rolled their eyes and thought, “We know what a taco salad is, you yutz!” If you’re a reader from another state, I formally apologize for not addressing your level of Mexican food awareness within this parenthetical note.)

On taco salad nights we usually include avocado in the mix. Over the past few years avocados have quietly become one of my favorite foods. I’m not a trained food critic, so I can’t quite describe the flavor of an avocado, but I’ll just put it this way—they’re freakin’ yummy. While there’s no denying that avocados by themselves are delicious, one thing you can do with them to heighten their deliciousness is combine them with salsa and sour cream to make guacamole. Finding the right combination of these three ingredients to make the perfect guacamole is tricky—the kind of thing that mystical elves in an enchanted forest might be skilled at—but somehow my 8-year-old son has a knack for getting the combo just right to make what he now calls his “famous guacamole.” So on taco salad nights my son’s “famous guacamole” has become a hot commodity.

On our most recent taco salad night my son suddenly decided to become entrepreneurial with his guacamole. Once he finished mixing his prized concoction he offered it up to the rest of his family for a penny a serving. My wife and younger son took him up on the offer but I passed at first—not because the price was too rich for my blood, but because by the time he got around to making the guacamole I had already finished my taco salad and was full. When I politely declined my son’s offer, he apparently thought I was balking at the cost, prompting him to say, “Okay, instead of a penny you can dance for your guacamole.” I stifled a laugh and decided to have some guacamole after all, at the original price of one penny, as I didn’t feel much like dancing.

After dinner when it was time for my older son to collect the penny from his brother, I heard the younger tot try to renegotiate the deal. “Can I do a dance for you, instead?” he asked. The older boy agreed and 30 seconds of freeform dancing sans musical accompaniment ensued.

Ultimately, the price of my son’s guacamole is pretty reasonable. At all the local restaurants it costs much more than a penny and I’m pretty sure they won’t let you do a dance rather than pay for the stuff. Of course, I don’t know this for sure, because I’ve never asked. Maybe next time I’m at Rosita’s I’ll see if I can do a rumba in exchange for my guacamole. Probably won’t work, but at least it’s got a better shot than offering to do the tarantella for an order of garlic bread in Brooklyn.