I was given some very good advice recently, and whether relating to your current friends, your living situation, your job, your finances or something else, it applies: take what you have right now and learn everything you can from it.
It’s maybe not a very new idea, but its impact is undeniable, even with something simple, like, say, an avocado.
A few weeks ago, I can’t remember if it was on that day we lost all power at work or another afternoon, while Alicia and I were talking, we said something about avocados and how we’d grown to love them over time.
I hated the idea of an avocado when I was little – much like the idea of tomatoes and onions and certain types of cheese.
But finally at some point I’d had guacamole with tortilla chips and then later, some avocado on a sandwich and eventually in some type of sushi, and I was sold.
And that same day we talked about avocados, Alicia came home to one, completely by surprise, and so I declared it great providence or, at least, a sign that I should buy some, too.
I purchased three. There was no rhyme or reason behind the number; I don’t even think there was a special sale going on.
I took them, threw them in a plastic bag and into my cart and skirted through the produce section.
Later, at home, I tried to cut into one, planning to re-create On the Border’s guacamole live that I’d seen them make so many times, right in front of me, at the table.
And here’s where the learning begins – if the avocado feels firm to the touch, it’s not ripe yet.
Over a week went by with my squeezing the fruit when I’d pass them, trying to see if they were, finally, soft and at least something like the spreadable consistency I’d seen in real-life demonstrations near a bowl of chips.
When they were, with the skin giving a little when I pushed, I sliced them in half long-wise, spooned out the pits and simply scooped out bright green flesh that was as soft as butter that’s been sitting on the counter.
The resulting guacamole was fine – good, even – a simple blend of tomatoes and onions and lime juice and a jalapeno.
It even made an impromptu addition to a dinner-party spread Mother’s Day evening, after it had darkened a little and we stirred it together to make it seem fresher. That was when I learned two more tips from a lovely lady from California:
1) If you leave the pit in the guacamole, it will stay bright green longer and 2) If you’re in a pinch, just combine avocado with salsa, which has most of the things you’d be adding anyway.
The thing about learning cooking is that it’s an awful lot like learning anything else – you gather information, you test, you try. But in this case, with one chief advantage: you get to eat it all in the end.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.